Branson reaches for the stars

“Sir Richard Branson today [September 27] announced that he had signed a licensing deal to create a fleet of spacecraft offering commercial flights to space by 2007-8. Speaking at the launch of Virgin Galactic Airways, Sir Richard said he planned to invest ₤60m in space tourism, making it accessible to the general public.

The Virgin boss this weekend signed a deal with the California-based Mojave Aerospace Ventures (MAV) for craft based on SpaceShipOne, a rocket-propelled reusable space vehicle created by the aerospace designer Burt Rutan. Sir Richard said he hoped to offer space flights on which five passengers would each pay £115,000 [~$208,000 US].

The tycoon, who has unsuccessfully attempted to circle the world by hot air balloon, said he planned to be on the first Virgin space flight, which could take place in three years time.”