Sir Richared Branson to be among first Virgin Galactic passengers

Sir Richared Branson to be among first Virgin Galactic passengers

Sir Richard Branson and his children will be among the first passengers to travel to space on Virgin Galactic next year.

Branson revealed that his son Sam and daughter Holly would accompany him on a journey 60 miles into space on the SpaceShipTwo (SS2) aircraft.

“I can’t wait to go up. The whole family plans to travel out to New Mexico with me.” Branson revealed.

The space tourism programme is expected to take off next year.

Celebrities including Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Tom Hanks have expressed and interest in the project and up to 120 tourists are thought to have signed up for the two-hour flights, at a cost of $200,000 a trip.

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WhiteKnightTwo has completed around 80 test flights and American aviation authority the FAA has granted the project an experimental launch permit.

Branson blogged: “We’ve had plenty of adventures in the air, but they all feel like a precursor to the greatest journey of them all - space.

“I was 19 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon, and have always thought that was only the beginning. My whole generation grew up anticipating the day space travel would be possible, and it is now drawing near.”

“The pioneers of flying are among the most inspirational of people, and I hope we can in some small way arouse an interest in aviation to some future pioneers this week. At Virgin the sky is no longer the limit!”

Flight time will be approximately two hours from takeoff to landing. At 50,000 feet, WhiteKnightTwo will release SpaceShipTwo for a rocket ride away from the earth’s surface. Once in space, SS2 passengers will have several minutes of out-of seat weightlessness before returning to Earth.

Click here  to read the interview with George Whitesides, president of Virgin Galactic