It's no secret that Richard Branson would like to go to space aboard Virgin Galactic's ships. However, it's now clear that he's eager to hasten the process. The tycoon told BBC Radio 4 that he expects his flight to be "months away, not years away," and that he's going through astronaut and fitness training to be sure he's ready. Just when that happens isn't clear (Branson has been optimistic about Virgin's timeline the past), but it's a more realistic claim now that powered VSS Unity tests are underway.
His trip would be symbolic for Virgin, but still important -- it'd represent confidence that the company's technology was safe enough for passengers. The bigger question is whether or not Virgin will make space tourism accessible for people who aren't as well-heeled as Branson. Early flights are bound to be extraordinarily expensive, and there's no guarantee that costs will drop quickly enough that everyday people can justify even a once-in-a-lifetime trip in the near future.