April 11, 2014
The Child Who Inspired Sir Richard Branson’s Dreams Of Space Travel Being Sought For VIP Treatment
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Sir Richard Branson, the man behind the dream to bring citizens into space, has only one person to thank in realizing that dream. During a visit to the BBC TV children’s show Going Live! In 1988, Branson got to talk with one enthusiastic child about the possibilities of future space travel.
As a child, Shihan Musafer placed a call to the Going Live! show and asked the question that would catapult Branson into the spotlight of human space travel: “Have you ever thought about going into space?”
To which Branson replied, “I'd love to go into space, as I think pretty well everybody watching this show would love to go to space. When you see those magnificent pictures in space and the incredible views, I think there could be nothing nicer. So if you're building a spacecraft I'd love to come with you on it.”
Branson said it was not long after that call that he set out to register the name Virgin Galactic and begin the long road to achieving that dream.
Now, after 26 years of blood, sweat and tears, Branson and his team have developed the world’s first commercial spaceline. As the end of the powered test flight program draws near, the company plans to begin flying passengers 62 miles over the Earth very soon.
Branson said not only does he want to personally thank Musafer for inspiring him through a simple phone call, he wants to offer him the chance to join Virgin Galactic as a VIP guest and witness a spaceflight.
Yet, according to The Telegraph, it remains unclear if Musafer is being offered just the opportunity to witness a spaceflight or become one of the several hundred potential passengers on the company’s SpaceShipTwo passenger spaceliner.
Branson is seeking the help of the public in tracking down Shihan Musafer, who today is likely to be in his mid- to late-30s.
“Can you help us? If you think you can help with the mission to find #shihanmusafer, tweet @richardbranson and @virgingalactic,” Branson said on his personal Virgin Galactic page.
Even if Musafer is found, one notable claims it may be a long wait before he can use that VIP pass.
Tom Bower, who is the author of Branson: Behind the Mask, said it is likely that Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo will need a complete overhaul “before it can achieve the required speed and height to be granted an FAA license to operate commercial space flights,” as reported by The Telegraph.
Currently, Branson’s SpaceShipTwo has only achieved a 13-mile peak since the company was founded in 2004. To be approved as a spaceplane, it will need to reach a height of 62-miles, nearly five times the height the plane has achieved in testing.
Virgin Galactic still believes its goal of sending citizen astronauts into space is very near. And based on the 700 future astronauts who have already booked a seat to space at $250,000 a pop, they likely believe it is very near as well.
Among the most notable celebrities who have reportedly signed on for the space adventure are Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Tom Hanks and Ashton Kutcher. Kutcher became the 500th person to buy a ticket for a ride into space back in May 2012.
Image Below: The Virgin Galactic team at its New Mexico-based spaceport. Credit: Virgin Galactic