Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson won’t say when he’ll ride his rocket ship into space
Cape Canaveral, Fla. –Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson would not say when he would ride his rocket ship into space or whether he would like to be the first billionaire to launch on his own rocket.
In an interview after Wednesday’s satellite launch by his separate company Virgin Orbit, Branson told the Associated Press that he should be “so attentive” to what he says about the publicly traded company Virgin Galactic.
“All I can say is that when the engineers tell me I can go to space, I’m ready, fit, and healthy,” Branson said. “Then we’ll see.”
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is targeting July 20 for the first launch of his rocket company with the guys. Blue Origin’s flight from West Texas will include Bezos, his brother, a charity auction winner worth $28 million, and a fourth unidentified person.
Branson visited Virgin Galactic’s New Mexico base before flying over California’s Mojave Desert for Wednesday’s plane-launched, multi-satellite mission.
Virgin Galactic plans three more test flights to the edge of space this summer and early fall before launching them to customers. The company had originally placed Branson on a second upcoming flight, but declined to say whether it was taking him on the next flight.
Branson would not comment Wednesday on which flight he would be on – he also did not say when the next flight might be. He acknowledged that it is “very important” for potential customers to see him lease a ride before opening the doors to the paying public.
The thrill-seeking adventurer, who turns 71 in a matter of weeks, said he is “not apprehensive at all” about launching into space.
“It’s the dream of a lifetime,” he told the AP.
Last week, Virgin Galactic received the Federal Aviation Administration’s OK to begin launching to customers. More than 600 people have already reserved a ride to the space. Tickets initially cost $250,000, but the price is expected to increase once the company starts accepting reservations again.
Virgin Galactic made its third flight into space in May, with two pilots in the cockpit of the winged spacecraft. Like Virgin Orbit, Virgin Galactic uses a plane to take off from the ground and wait until it reaches a high altitude before releasing and firing a rocket.
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