Richard Branson has claimed he will be able to go into space within the next six months.
The billionaire entrepreneur said he expects to make his first voyage with his Virgin Galactic space programme. He added that the company is still on target to send tourists into space by the end of next year.
He remained optimistic about the company’s future three years on from a crash which resulted in the death of one pilot and injured another in California’s Mojave Desert.
Despite this and a number of smaller setbacks, over 700 potential customers, including scientists such as Stephen Hawkingand celebrities such as Brad Pitt and Ashton Kutcher, have signed up to take a $250,000 (£200,000) trip on one of its crafts.
Speaking at the Nordic Business Forum in Helsinki, Finland last week, Mr Branson said: “We are hopefully about three months before we are in space, maybe six months before I’m in space.”
“I’m not as passionate about Mars as Elon is,” he said. “My love for space is about how much it can do for people back here on Earth, and that’s what Virgin Galactic is pushing towards.”
Mr Musk recently announced plans to get to Mars by 2022.