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Hertfordshire, UK – Sir Richard Branson has told Google’s Zeitgeist conference that Virgin Galactic spaceships will be ready for testing by the end of the year.
Branson made the announcement at the end of the conference, during a chat with Eric Schmidt, Google’s chairman and chief executive, and Larry Page, Google’s co-founder and president for products.
He claimed there would be a surprisingly low enironmental cost. “It’s important to invest in new technology. We can send people into space for the same environmental cost of someone flying from here to New York,” he said. “In time we will get it to be carbon neutral.”
The spacecraft will be comparatively luxurious, with fully reclining beds and ample room for passengers to enjoy defying gravity.
Eric Schmidt joked that Larry Page would definitely be one of Virgin Galactic’s first customers, leaving him to worry about his safety and the caretaking of Google.
Virgin Galactic expects to start the first commercial space flights next year, with passengers paying £150,000. Branson and his family are planning a trip, and, according to the Daily Telegraph, so are Paris Hilton and William Shatner, the Star Trek actor. The conversation should be interesting.
Branson stressed the importance of the entrepreneurial spirit. “Some things will be successful and some things will fall flat on their face,” he said.
He also said that in the future Virgin Galactic would be able to send satellites into space.