James O'Brien 10am - 1pm
Commercial Space Race: Richard Branson On Whether He'll Beat Elon Musk
14 December 2018, 18:28
After the latest test flight by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic successfully rocketed to the edge of space and back, Sir Richard Branson has become firm favourite to reach the stars first in the commercial space race.
The commercial space race is a three-way battle between Branson’s Virgin Galactic, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Tesla’s Elon Musk, who own space startups Blue Origin and SpaceX respectively.
Tom Swarbrick spoke to Sir Richard Branson on a landmark day - 13th December 2018 - which saw Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo passenger rocket ship reach a height of 82.7km, beyond the altitude at which US agencies have awarded astronaut wings.
It marked the plane's fourth test flight and followed earlier setbacks in the firm's space programme.
When Tom Swarbrick asked Sir Branson whether he thought that he would beat Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos in sending commercial passengers to space, he said that he would "claim victory as to sending the first people into space", and said that they were ahead of the game because of this.
"All three projects are massively exciting...there are so many people who would love to go to to space so the more competition the better", he continued, adding that he has massive respect for his competitors.
Sir Richard Branson also spoke about the darker moments faced by the Virgin Galactic project, namely the fatal crash in 2014, saying that sadly it was an "unexplainable test pilot error" rather than a technical issue, so on this basis they decided not to give up on the project.
He said that they had to overcome the dark moments in order to proceed with the project and succeed.
Listen to the full clip above...