Richard Branson, the billionaire owner of Virgin Galactic, says he is “90 percent convinced’ spaceships will fly from New Mexico’s taxpayer-funded Spaceport America this year.
In an interview with Fusion.net’s Jorge Ramos, Branson said, “I’m pretty convinced that by this summer our spacecraft will go into space and then I think by September myself and my family will have been into space. I’m 90 percent convinced that will happen.”
New Mexico taxpayers in 2007 ponied up $225 million to fund the spaceport, which has been waiting for its anchor tenant Virgin Galactic to arrive. Virgin Galactic aims to become the world’s first commercial spaceline to send customers willing and able to pay the $250,000 ticket into space for a short journey.
Nearly 700 people have reserved tickets, although Virgin Galactic has yet to complete its test flight program. The company is also awaiting a commercial spaceflight permit from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Branson has overshot the mark on Virgin Galactic’s start date before. A year ago in May, Branson predicted Virgin Galactic would be flying to space by Christmas 2013.