According to Sir Richard Branson, founder of the space tourism company Virgin Galactic, their latest spaceplane, SpaceShipTwo, will be in space in a matter of weeks. The plane is built to launch spaceships into orbit.
The program follows a move either this year by Townsville Airport, in far north Queensland, to provide emotional support dogs for nervous travellers.
"Soon after that we will send into space people, so we will have a very interesting few months ahead".
"We will be in space with people not too long after that", he added.
To prepare for his maiden voyage, Branson said, he's been training rigorously: cycling, playing tennis and spending time in a centrifuge to acquaint his body with the gravitational forces of space.
The reusable New Shepard rocket and spacecraft is meant to carry up to six space tourists, researchers and/or experiments on brief suborbital flights, the company has said. In 2014, an early version of a Virgin Galactic spacecraft pulled apart and crashed during a test flight over the Mojave, killing co-pilot Michael Alsbury. The company plans to provide orbital human spaceflights as well.
Virgin, meanwhile, offers tickets for $250,000 a pop (but hopes that amount will drop to around $40,000 or $50,000 over the next decade).
To reach space, the pilots must take the Unity higher still.
Once released, the spaceship will fire up its rocket, and head for the sky.
"We should be in space within weeks, not months", he said.
Even as Musk was forced to settle with the SEC over charges of securities fraud, paying a $20 million fine and stepping down as chairman of Tesla, he still appears to have the edge on Branson in the space race.
A Virgin Galactic spacecraft can accommodate two astronauts who will pilot it, along with six paying passengers. Tourists will be able to cross the imaginary boundary where space begins, or the line of the Pocket at an altitude of 100 kilometers.