Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson says the company’s rocket tests are going “extremely well” and he hopes to launch his commercial spaceship within the next year, AFP reported.

“This could be the beginning of a whole new era of space travel,” Branson told CNN’s Piers Morgan Sept. 14. He said that flying passengers from Los Angeles to London in “about an hour” is a possibility, though he conceded such a service is likely many years away.

Virgin Galactic plans to begin by taking tourists on suborbital flights before eventually soaring higher. The company says it has sold 430 tickets for space travel at $200,000 apiece, a total of $86 million. “It’s not a cheap thing to build a spaceship company and it’s been fantastic to have people all over the world sign up,” Branson said.


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