Richard Branson Confident Virgin Galactic Will Get Him to Space This Year

Two years ago, we touched on some ambitious efforts to reach Mars. Notably, we reported on the astonishing undertaking of Mars One, a Dutch nonprofit that for years has been talking about developing a colony on the Red Planet. We also noted how English business magnate Sir Richard Branson founded Virgin Galactic Airlines in 2004. The company plans to offer commercial spaceflights for a measly $200,000. The bombastic billionaire himself has not yet made it to outer space, but that may soon change.

The 68-year-old multibillionaire is confident that Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft will breach the Kármán line this year. Sir Branson told CNBC that Virgin Galactic will soon be in space, and that he will be — for obvious reasons — one of the first people to venture out of the planet courtesy of the 14-year-old company.

“It will be something like two or three more flights before we’re actually in space,” Branson told CNBC back in May right after Virgin Galactic’s second test flight. He added that these developments are “a tremendous step in the right direction toward accomplishing our goals,” before emphasizing that they are taking “a step-by-step cautious approach” to ensure that everything is truly good to go.

But Sir Branson is not the only billionaire fully invested in the race to space. Amazon boss Jeff Bezos is also involved, as is tech titan Elon Musk. The latter, in fact, is in the midst of his SpaceX program, whose aim is to fly people to the moon. Branson according to Mashable, is a likely candidate for the ambitions space program. The Tesla co-founder and CEO did admit that his mystery passengers know one another and have each “put down a hefty deposit” to be part of the project. Another likely candidate is James Cameron, the deep-pocketed director extraordinaire who has already reportedly paid rival firm, Space Adventures, over $100 million for a flight around the moon.

Cameron, of course, helmed two of the highest grossing films of all time: Titanic and Avatar, and he is known for his passion for deep sea exploration, space, and science. Titanic in particular, still resonates even today, with various companies still riding the coattails of the film’s unprecedented popularity. Cameron’s film introduced a whole generation to possibilities of exploring the unknown, and this has led to people visiting the Titanic wreck in tourist dives. The film is still inspiring people in the modern era through digital media. Cameron, of course, helmed two of the highest grossing films of all time: Titanic and Avatar, and he is known for his passion for deep-sea exploration, space, and science. Titanic in particular, still resonates even today, with various companies still riding the coattails of the film’s unprecedented popularity. Cameron’s film introduced a whole generation to possibilities of exploring the unknown, and this has led to people visiting the Titanic wreck in tourist dives. The film is still connecting with people in the modern era through digital media. FoxyCasino has a dedicated Titanic game that has introduced a generation of online gamers to the Oscar winning epic. But more than being a renowned director, Cameron is also known for his work in saving the high seas, a commitment that he shares with Sir Branson. The two even penned an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times urging then US president Barack Obama to support an international agreement to modernize governance of the high seas.

From all indications, 2018 could be an eventful year for Sir Branson, as he may well fulfill his long-time dream of flying to space. He his first step into space will be a big one for the future of public space travel.

Jeff Bezos says humanity needs to move to space

In an interview with Alex Springer, Bezos shares his thoughts about why humanity must leave Earth.  Basically humanity will one day run out of power or outgrow our power supply. There’s more power in space and we will have to harness that power to move forward and survive.

Let me give you just a couple of numbers. If you take your body—your metabolic rate as a human it’s just an animal, you eat food, that’s your metabolism—you burn about a 100 Watts. Your power, your body is the same as a 100-Watt lightbulb. We’re incredibly efficient. Your brain is about 60 Watts of that. Amazing. But if you extrapolate in developed countries where we use a lot of energy, on average in developed countries our civilizational metabolic rate is 11,000 Watts. So, in a natural state, where we’re animals, we’re only using a 100 Watts. In our actual developed-world state, we’re using 11,000 Watts. And it’s growing. For a century or more, it’s been compounding at a few percent a year—our energy usage as a civilization.

Now if you take baseline energy usage globally across the whole world and compound it at just a few percent a year for just a few hundred years, you have to cover the entire surface of the Earth in solar cells. That’s the real energy crisis. And it’s happening soon. And by soon, I mean within just a few hundred years. We don’t actually have that much time. So what can you do? Well, you can have a life of stasis, where you cap how much energy we get to use. You have to work only on efficiency. By the way, we’ve always been working on energy efficiency, and still we grow our energy usage. It’s not like we have been squandering energy. We have been getting better at using it with every passing decade. So, stasis would be very bad, I think.

Now take the scenario, where you move out into the Solar System. The Solar System can easily support a trillion humans. And if we had a trillion humans, we would have a thousand Einsteins and a thousand Mozarts and unlimited (for all practical purposes) resources and solar power unlimited for all practical purposes. That’s the world that I want my great-grandchildren’s great-grandchildren to live in.