It’s no secret that Richard Branson rarely follows the rules. The self-made magnate dropped out of high school at the age of 16 to start his own business and, against all odds, made his first million by 23. More than four decades later, the headline-grabbing Brit is still blazing new trails, from bringing sexy back to the skies with his Virgin airlines to striking out into the next frontier—space—with Virgin Galactic. Binding many of Branson’s endeavors is a singular love for travel. “I don’t think I will ever stop traveling,” he says. “It is because I travel so often that I am constantly inspired to do more—and do better.”
In order to understand the world, we must first experience it. Traveling allows us to make connections with people and understand their viewpoints. And now, more than ever, I think that it is important to understand each other and break barriers—not create division. Seeing more of the world gives you a sense of pride for this place that we live in. Traveling makes people more compassionate and respectful of each other, and that kind of understanding makes for more sensible solutions to the problems of the world.
To Infinity and Beyond
I first knew I wanted to go into space when I saw the moon landing. I was inspired. But [I didn’t act] until I went on a BBC show and a young boy asked me, “Have you ever thought of going to space?” I told him that I would love to, and that I was sure everyone else watching the show that day would as well. Soon after, I went on to register the name Virgin Galactic.
Every time I speak to an audience about Virgin Galactic and ask who from the room would like to go to space, almost everyone raises their hand. There is an enormous demand for going to space. More people want to go to space because more people are curious about the world. The desire to explore is in our nature as human beings. And now people want to explore beyond the boundaries of the earth, because what could be more spectacular than space?
We unveiled our new spacecraft, VSS Unity, last February with the help of Stephen Hawking. I have to say, it is just beautiful. Now the brilliant people at Virgin Galactic are hard at work, busy with ground tests and flight-test programs. We are working to make sure we have the best spacecraft equipped to send people safely to space and back. I have learned not to give out any target dates, but I know we will fly when we are ready.
My hope is that in 20 years people will be able to go to space for a fraction of the price. Eventually, space travel will allow for us to travel from point to point not only for a fraction of the price but a fraction of the time as well. Imagine going from London to New York in under an hour! That luxury of time—of being able to see more places in less time—will be a big change in how people will travel.
Courtesy of Robb Report