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Virgin Galactic to be in space 'in weeks,' owner Branson says

10 October 2018

Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson says his team are only "weeks, not months" away from putting their first rocket in space - and Galactic are "neck and neck" with Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin program for the first commercial spaceflight.

Virgin Galactic's disaster-struck space tourism programme is apparently nearing final launch readiness, with Branson telling USA news site CNBC that: "We should be in space within weeks, not months. And then we will be in space with myself in months and not years", he said.

Earlier this year, Virgin Galactic completed a supersonic test flight of its SpaceShipTwo passenger rocket ship, its first since the crash. And that'll be a legitimate offsettable business expense for professional Instagrammers, so there ought to be loads of them up flying about up there, pouting in front of small, black windows.

When the plane reaches space, the vessel will detach and propel itself higher into space before both return to Earth - albeit at different times. The upper atmosphere is generally regarded to give way to space at an altitude of 62 miles (100km), almost twice the altitude achieved in the July test flight.

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Virgin Galactic aims to launch the first commercial passenger flight into space, and is in tough competition with US space company Blue Origin. He told CNBC that the company will be flying in space "within weeks".

The entrepreneur added that he hoped to be onboard an early Virgin Galactic flight "in months not years", with passengers willing to part with $250,000 (£192,000) taking their seats "not too long after that".

The 68-year-old was asked by CNBC's Nancy Hungerford: 'If Elon Musk were to call you up, what advice would you give him?'

And in that time, rivals like SpaceX and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin have flourished.

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Virgin Galactic, founded by Branson in 2004, is working to carry tourists on a brief journey to space, dozens of miles above the Earth's surface.

But so far - despite many promises to launch - the company is still in the testing phase.

But Virgin boss Richard Branson has come out with some bullish words on Galactic's progress.

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Virgin Galactic to be in space 'in weeks,' owner Branson says