Virgin to launch space tourism in 18 months

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Kuala Lumpur: Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson on September 27 said that Virgin Galactic is on track to offer commercial space travel within 18 months, and that space hotels are next on the drawing board.

The project’s SpaceshipTwo, an aircraft built by aviation engineer Burt Rutan and designed to carry paying customers into suborbital space, had its maiden flight in the California desert in March.

“We just finished building SpaceshipTwo. We are 18 months away from taking people into space,” Branson told a business conference here, adding that the fare will start at $200,000.

Virgin Galactic, which aims to become the world’s first commercial company to promote space tourism, has already collected $45 million in deposits from more than 330 people, who have reserved seats aboard the six-person craft.

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