Just over a year ago I recorded this video of Sir Richard Branson at Prof Stephen Hawkings' 70th birthday symposium in Cambridge. Branson told me he was planning to enter space on his Virgin Galactic by the end of 2012 with his children, and that Prof Hawking would follow on one of the next trips. Although delayed, it shouldn't be long before the countdown begins as test flights appear to be successful.
Virgin Galactic is exciting because it is the world's first commercial spaceline. Prof Hawking believes our earth is too crowded and that the human race must colonise space; for him, this trip is a dream come true, enabling him to explore his beloved universe. He fears that we will not survive another thousand years on our 'fragile planet', saying:
"Most recent advances in cosmology have been achieved from space where there are uninterrupted views of our vast and beautiful universe, but we must also continue to go into space for the future of humanity. I don't think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet. I therefore want to encourage public interest in space and I've been getting my training in early."
Do you fancy a trip on Galactic? If so, here is the link for you to apply.