Virgin Galactic is on track to begin flying passengers to space next year, with founder Richard Branson claiming the expeditions will have “transformative” repercussions for the world.
Speaking to delegates earlier this year at the 2013 Social Good Summit, the Virgin Group founder and serial entrepreneur claimed that commercial space travel is about to become a reality, Yahoo! News reported.
Virgin will transport passengers aboard its own Virgin Intergalactic craft for approximately US$250,000 return, already taking over US$70 million in deposits from 580 potential travellers.
The SpaceShip Two VSS Enterprise has already completed two successful test flights, reaching supersonic speeds.
“We couldn’t be more delighted to have another major supersonic milestone under our belts as we move toward a 2014 start of commercial service,” Mr Branson said.
The Virgin founder was quick to highlight the “transformative” prospects of this mode of travel.
“We're going to be able to monitor if a ship is fishing illegally – we can spot it live through our satellites. We can check if people are hunting down rhinos,” Mr Branson said.
Virgin Galactic plans to build a fleet of spacecraft, each capable of carrying six passengers on suborbital space flights, while Hollywood stars Angelina Jolie, Ashton Kutcher, Brad Pitt, Justin Bieber, Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio have already signed on to visit outer-space.