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Space race: Richard Branson in astronaut training ahead of first flight

Martin Kovacs /

Richard Branson says it could be just a matter of months before he embarks upon his first space trip, with the billionaire entrepreneur undertaking a range of training in preparation for the rigours of space flight.

Branson, the founder of space flight company Virgin Galactic, has told the BBC his maiden voyage is “months away, not years away”, detailing what his training regime involves, including fitness and centrifuge training, along with regular sets of tennis.

“Instead of doing one set of tennis every morning and every evening, I’m doing two sets,” he told the BBC.

“I’m going kiting and biking — doing whatever it takes to make me as fit as possible.”

Branson is one of a number of entrepreneurs, including Tesla chief executive Elon Musk and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, seeking to make commercial space flights a reality. He told the BBC he sees Bezos as his main competition.

“I think we’re both neck and neck as to who will put people into space first,” he said.

“Ultimately, we have to do it safely. It’s more a race with ourselves to make sure we have the craft that are safe to put people up there.”

In April this year, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity completed its first supersonic, rocket-powered flight.

As reported by the BBC, it was the first powered flight for Virgin Galactic’s new vehicle following the 2014 break-up of its previous craft over the Californian desert, which caused the death of one pilot and left the other seriously injured.

NOW READ: This documentary taught Richard Branson a valuable lesson about fear

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Martin Kovacs

Martin Kovacs is a journalist with experience covering the IT, consumer electronics, retail, finance and energy sectors.

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