Branson’s Long, Winding Path to Space

For more than 15 years, Virgin Galactic has been working to begin carrying paying passengers to the edge of space and back.

In the early 1990s, celebrated aeronautical engineer Burt Rutan set himself a challenge: designing a spaceplane.

“I’m going to give it a try, I’m going to go out and do it,” Mr Rutan said in 2004, recalling his thoughts a decade earlier.

Like many before and since, he was motivated by the lack of access to space for “ordinary” people – in other words, those who aren’t government-funded astronauts.

“Over the last 25 years it has become increasingly, increasingly obvious that the kids who dream – and I consider myself still a kid – that they can go up and see these views (of Earth from space) have diminishing hope, diminishing dreams,” Rutan explained.

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