THE MAN Sir Richard Branson – known as much for his eccentricity, candour, love of adventure and partying as for his entrepreneurial brilliance – has become one of the world’s most influential and admired icons. While the spectacular success of his business ventures has inspired a generation and made “Virgin” a brand respected on every continent, his hedonistic public image belies the sensitivity and shrewdness of the man himself.
HIS JOURNEY Having achieved most of his entrepreneurial aims, Sir Richard is now turning his resourceful eye to both philanthropic and technological frontiers: eradicating disease, uplifting impoverished peoples in Africa – and perhaps even travelling into space. The sky, it seems, really is the limit for this maverick with the golden touch.
To read the full version of this story, go to page 24 of the January-February 2010 issue.
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THE SPACE-TOURISM RACE
Sir Richard Branson isn’t the only person in the space race – space tourism sees a multitude of millionaires trying to make their mark in this revolutionary new industry…
BY SONJA RAATH
Paying for a flight into space sounds like a little boy’s dream – but it might not be so far off for us mere mortals who didn’t quite make it into Nasa’s Space Programme. Opportunities to fly into space are limited and expensive, and only available to a lucky – and stinking rich – few. Here they are:
Billionaire Robert Bigelow, founder of the Budget Suites Hotel chain, is attempting to make history by creating the first space hotel. If everything goes according to plan, the dream that is the Bigelow Sundancer will soon become a reality. Bigelow Aerospace will offer guests a cutting-edge stay in the Sundancer space hotel that revolves around the earth.
According to www.space-tourism.ws, the vacation should cost about $8 million (about R58 million) a week per person. The Sundancer space hotel will cost Bigelow $75 million (about R550 million) and have 180 cubic meters of habitation, attitude control, orbit manoeuvrability and three windows to support a crew of three. Start saving!
SPACEDEV DREAM CHASER
The SpaceDev Dream Chaser is one of the newest tourism spacecrafts that will allow a lucky few to chase their dreams of going into suborbital space. Capable of carrying six to eight people, the Dream Chaser has a winged craft able to return to almost any runway in the world.
The Dream Chaser was developed by SpaceDev under the leadership of founder Jim Benson. According to www.astronautix.com, the Dream Chaser will be powered by a hybrid SpaceDev rocket motor. The spacecraft will use internal hybrid rocket motors for suborbital flights and launch on the side of three large hybrid boosters to reach orbit. The Dream Chaser was designed to both serve the suborbital tourism market and provide commercial crew transfer to the International Space Station.