Rocket Airlines: Closer Than We Think?

Virgin Galactic’s Branson says London-Sydney in two hours is possible.

Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic
Illustration courtesy of Virgin Galactic

In an interview with British magazine T3, Virgin Galactic chairman Richard Branson again did what we love about him: he waxed optimistic about the future of private commercial space flight.

The launch a decade ago of a civilian manned space program in the United States seemed at the time to be a starry-eyed and quixotic attempt to infuse innovation and entrepreneurship into what had become since the days of Apollo a highly bureaucratic and heavy footed military/corporate partnership. Today, with the last days of the Space Shuttle around the corner and a growing number of successful private space forays complete, Branson, who jumped into the game right off the bat, is looking more like a visionary than a self promoter. (Check out our past coverage of Virgin's ambitious space enterprise here.)

His latest boast, that commerical space flight from London to Sydney is within sight, is equally hard to fathom and hard to ignore.

You don’t get to be a billionaire without understanding the complexities of commercial enterprises, and Branson doesn’t advise you to start shopping for next year’s spring break rocket plane tickets tomorrow. But he did say that his engineers are working on such a plan already and that such flights could be available commercially within his “lifetime.” As a bonus, he added, a passenger “could become an astronaut on the way to [a] holiday in Australia.”

Check out T3's story for more information.