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Sydney to LAX in 45 minutes? Richard Branson is determined to make it happen.

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Virgin Group’s Sir Richard Branson added some star appeal in more ways than one at an aviation summit in Washington DC last week, where he shared insights on his quest to personally fly into space and to make that viable for the traveling public.

Branson went on stage at the summit, organized by the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, with Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson. The two are allies in their new antitrust transatlantic joint venture between Delta and Virgin Atlantic Airways.

As Branson himself said, there is some irony in the fact that after his long, hard campaign against the American Airlines/British Airways alliance, during which he had “No Way BA/AA” painted on his Virgin Atlantic aircraft, he is now partnered with Delta. The joint venture was formed after Delta bought Singapore Airlines’ 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic.

Branson talked a bit about his Virgin Galactic project to design and build the world’s first commercial spaceliner. Early this year, SpaceShip Two (SS2), VSS Enterprise, completed its third rocket-powered supersonic flight of its passenger-carrying reusable space vehicle from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. There’s a great video here that explains the project. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6HjHNdWQBg#t=159

2014 is a big year for Virgin Galactic, when the spaceship will go into space and begin the transition to Virgin Galactic commercial operations, which will be based at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

Branson said last week that he was very excited about the prospect of personally flying into space. He talked of the possibility of one day having the option to fly from Sydney and Los Angeles in just 45-50 minutes.

ALPA president Lee Moak was a speaker at the same summit and also at the SkyHarbor Aviation Symposium in Phoenix the next day and he mentioned Branson’s comment. But he pointed out that given the very long immigration and border control queues that many people endure at US gateway airports, he couldn’t help but fear that after their 45 minute flight from Sydney, travelers would still have to wait hours at the airport.

You can learn more about the Virgin Galactic project here. http://www.virgingalactic.com/

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

on Apr 9, 2014

Richard Branson or as the stiff and starched English would say, Sir Richard, has always been a rather colourful character, spicing up controversy that has helped him carve out an empire straddling several businesses.

Given his doggedness, the near-space venture of his is surely going to generate a lot of interest and heat. How successful it becomes only time will tell.

I recall the first flight of Virgin Atlantic arriving into New Delhi from London Heathrow, many years back. The showman that he is, Richard Branson opened the crew emergency hatch of the taxing B-747 and stood there waving the Indian tri-colour much to the delight of the media covering the event. Needless to add, he got a walloping from the authorities for flagrant violation of safety rules.

But, then, that is Richard Branson for you...man of many hats...! The space venture is perhaps his effort to ensure that the sun never sets, at least, on his empire...

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