Virgin Galactic will be in space 'within weeks,' says CEO Richard Branson

Richard Branson

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Keep an eye on the sky this month, as Virgin Galactic gears up to finally take its first trip to space.

"We are more than tantalizingly close now, so we should be in space within weeks, not months", he told CNBC.

Branson said part of the reason why he himself had such an "enjoyable life and a long life" is due to him finding "wonderful people" to run his companies, only getting involved with the key issues. And that'll be a legitimate offsettable business expense for professional Instagrammers, so there ought to be loads of them up flying about up there, pouting in front of small, black windows.

Virgin Galactic completed its first supersonic flight since the infamous crash, which killed one test pilot and severely injured another, earlier this year.

The billionaire entrepreneur is competing with Tesla's Elon Musk and Amazon's Jeff Bezos to be the first to send fee-paying passengers into space.

Branson's other space company, Virgin Orbit, has a contract with the Pentagon to launch "technology demonstration satellites", which it is aiming to do by 2019.

Blue Origin flew its New Shepherd spacepod, which launches aboard a traditional rocket capsule, to an altitude of 351,000 feet (107,000 metres) during a test flight near Van Horn, Texas, on April 29.

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"Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are formidable competitors, and there's definitely room for all three companies", he said.

CEO George Whitesides told the Albuquerque Journal this August that while the company no longer gives a timeline for when commercial operations might begin, he said its long-anticipated move to New Mexico was drawing near.

Since the beginning of the year, it's been hard to ignore the major successes that have been seen from Elon Musk's 'SpaceX' program. Last year, Branson announced that he wanted his company in space, operating commercial flights, by the end of 2018.

At the time Branson added that he hoped to become an astronaut within a year with Virgin Galactic.

The first space tourists, who visited the International Space Station (ISS) in the 2000s, paid tens of millions of dollars for the privilege.

Tourists will spend several minutes floating in zero gravity, aboard a spaceship that approaches or passes through the Karman line, the boundary of Earth's atmosphere and space, some 62 miles (100 kilometers) high.

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