Branson announces Virgin Galactic will send tourists into space in 2018

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WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

  • It’s been a long time coming but Richard Branson believes Virgin Galactic’s first space tourists will take off in 2018, opening the final frontier up to tourism for the first time


 

Wannabe space tourism company Virgin Galactic hasn’t exactly had the easiest time of things, originally, founder Richard Branson wanted the new company to be offering space flights in 2009 – and then there was a deadly crash in the Mojave desert. But now, almost eight years on from his original deadline it looks like the company is almost there after Branson announced that they intend to offer the first flights in 2018. And, of course, Branson wants to be one of the first people to fly.

 

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“Well we stopped giving dates,” he said, “but I think I’d be very disappointed if we’re not into space with a test flight by the end of this year and I’m not into space myself next year and the program isn’t well underway by the end of next year.”

“The test program is going really well,” he said, “and as long as we’ve got our brave test pilots pushing it to the limit we think that after whatever it is, 12 years of hard work, we’re nearly there.”

 

 

Virgin Galactic’s foray into the space industry was nearly permanently derailed by the October 2014 crash of the company’s SpaceShipTwo which resulted in the death of one of the aircraft’s two co-pilots.

The accident was a horrible setback, but the company seems to have learned important lessons moving forward, especially under former NASA chief of staff and current CEO George Whitesides.

Safety standards have experienced a robust leap forward, and Virgin Galactic is enjoying a successful new round of testing, having just completing the third glide test of the new version of the SpaceShipTwo, the VSS Unity.

Also, the launch of a new manufacturing division, The Spaceship Company, and the addition of Stephen Hawking as a ticket holder for one of the first flights into space are extremely encouraging signs the company is making effective strides.

 

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The company has quite a way to go though before it can send humans up into the sky and guarantee a safe journey back, but with about 500 customers having already put down $250,000 each on a seat to go into space sometime soon, there doesn’t seem to be any turning back now. And when Virgin Galactic does finally crack the code it’ll open the doors to space tourism for all of us and I for one intend to be in that queue – that is after my crowdfunding campaign hits its $250,000 goal…

 

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, award winning Futurist and Founder of the 311 Institute, a global futures think tank working between the dates of 2020 and 2070, is described as "The Adviser behind the Advisers." Regularly featured on AP, CNBC, Discovery and RT, his ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past five years as one of the world's foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive future. A rare talent Matthew sits on the Technology and Innovation Committee (TIAC) for Centrica, Europe’s largest utility company, and his recent work includes mentoring XPrize teams, building the first generation of biocomputers and re-inventing global education, and helping the world’s largest manufacturers envision, design and build the next 20 years of devices, smartphones and intelligent machines. Matthew's clients are the who’s who of industry and include Accenture, Bain & Co, BCG, BOA, Blackrock, Bentley, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, Du Pont, E&Y, HPE, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, UBS, the USAF and many others.

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