Richard Branson Touts 'Historic' Virgin Galactic Flight (Video)
Richard Branson is ever optimistic about realizing the potential of commercial space flight.
After an apparently successful test flight on Thursday of SpaceShipTwo above the Mojave Desert, the mogul touted a "giant step" forward.
"Our spaceship is now the highest commercial winged vehicle in history!" Branson wrote on his blog. "We also successfully tested its feather system for carefree re-entry too -- the first time that's happened on a rocket-powered flight." He added that SpaceShipTwo was propelled to 69,000 feet and achieved a Mach 1.43 speed.
"Virgin Galactic is now gearing up for the commercial service: finalizing cabin interiors, flight suits, training programs and the multiple other details required to offer our hundreds of aspiring astronauts a safe and awe-inspiring journey," he said in a video (below) showing footage of the test run. "We are on track for 2014 start of commercial service."
Branson has delayed the launch date for a commercial flight before. But he has been enthusiastic about enlisting well-known Hollywood names to sign on for a launch flight.
Last March, Two and a Half Men actor Ashton Kutcher was named the 500th astronaut to reserve a spot on a potential flight. Justin Bieber and talent manager Scooter Braun were similarly recruited to join a Galactic flight, Branson tweeted in June.
The cost of a ticket on board a flight is set at $250,000. At a Cannes charity auction in May, the winning bidder paid $1.5 million to board a future Virgin Galactic flight alongside Leonardo DiCaprio.