Along with Tesla-SpaceX guru Elon Musk, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson has long been one of the leading entrepreneurs looking for ways to make space exploration and intergalactic living a reality. This morning, the billionaire revealed, in broad strokes, his vision for space tourism in the next century.
"I'd like to have really sexy Virgin hotels in space where people can go and stay in pods, head off in little spaceships around the moon, where they wake up in the morning, and then they go back to their pods in the evening," Branson told Mashable UK in a Facebook Live session.
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Sounds like a delightful holiday, no?
"It's right that mankind should aspire to great things—like landing on the moon or going to Mars," he says. "Only 500 people have actually been to space, and I think it's important that many people can go to space and look back on how beautiful and fragile Earth is. Generally those people come back with a determination to look after it."
And while anecdotal and market research shows that most people would go to space if the opportunity were safe and accessible—"If I ask a room of 1,000 people, 90 percent would say they would love to do it," Branson says—he predicts that a quick weekend non-Earth trip and Martian turn-down service is still a long ways off.
"I think, obviously, Virgin Galactic, we'd love to take people to Mars one day," he says. "But in the meantime, there's an awful lot of work that needs to be done in order to help people back here on earth. For instance, we're putting this big array of satellites around the earth to try to connect the 5 billion people who don't have wifi or internet access—the demand for that is enormous."