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Friday, June 11, 2004
Branson reaches for the stars
Sir Richard Branson aims to bring space travel within the reach of ordinary people by pioneering space flights at affordable prices.
The thrill-seeking entrepreneur told Guardian Unlimited that Virgin was investing money in "trying to make sure that, in the not too distant future, people from around the world will be able to go into space". He said he hoped to be a passenger on one of the first tourist space flights into space.
Sir Richard refused to be drawn on details of the project, but said the public should expect an announcement revealing Virgin's latest enterprise at some time in the next two or three weeks.
"All will be revealed over the next two or three weeks - but, in a general sense, space is the ultimate frontier, and something we at Virgin have dearly wanted to do is to bring space tourism one day to the masses," he said.
Space expert Greg Klerkx, author of the book Lost in Space: The Fall of Nasa and the Dream of a New Space Age, said that, for some time, there had been rumours Sir Richard was very interested in space flight.
"He has had some conversations with [space tourism firm] Space Adventures about being a space tourist himself," Mr Klerkx told Guardian Unlimited.
Virgin has long been involved in promoting the adventurous exploits of its chairman and his fellow adventurer Steve Fossett, including the successful Global Challenger mission to fly a balloon non-stop around the world.
Sir Richard's forthcoming announcement could be related to plans for a June 21 test flight of SpaceShipOne, a rocket-propelled reusable space vehicle created by aerospace designer Burt Rutan, of California firm Scaled Composites. Read More
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