Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group will be the first space group traveler and he’s doing it family travel style. Branson announced that if tests go according to plans, Branson and his two children, Holly, 31 and Sam, 28, could blast off into space from New Mexico in August, 2014. And the entire trip will be documented and aired live on NBC.
“We are delighted that we are going to be working with you,” Branson, 63, told Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie, the hosts of NBC television’s “Today” morning show.
“It is going to be an incredibly exciting year,” he said.
NBC will also air a special program the night before the launch, and Lauer and Guthrie will host a three-hour live event when his spaceship takes off.
“We are very, very happy to be part of this project,” Lauer said, adding NBC will be a part of the entire process.
The famous British entrepreneurial rock star and self-made billionaire said the aircraft has broken the sound barrier in tests and will do a test flight to the edge of space early next year.
He and his children will be the first passengers on the aircraft that will have two pilots and a total of six passengers. The other passengers have not yet been selected.
However, nearly 700 people, including actor Leonardo DiCaprio and physicist Stephen Hawking, have signed up for the flights, which will cost up to $250,000. Now that is quite a travel group. Right?
“I think most people in this world would love the chance to go to space if they could afford it and if we could guarantee them a return ticket,” Branson said.
Space travel is the latest business frontier for Branson, whose business empire ranges from airlines to mobiles phones. Always one to push personal boundaries, he has also attempted to fly around the world in a hot air balloon and to speed across the Atlantic Ocean in a power boat. Triporama does not necessarily recommend those, like space travel, for group travel.
A study commissioned by the U.S. and Florida governments has estimated that in their first decade of operations, commercial suborbital spaceflights could bring in between $600 million and $1.6 billion in revenue, with tourism driving about 80% of the demand.
Would you signup for space tourism? Who would you like in your travel group?