Sir Richard Branson is training to become an astronaut as he prepares for a space race against Amazon boss Jeff Bezos.
The British billionaire, who is attempting to get his space tourism company Virgin Galactic off the ground, said that he will be catapulted into space within months.
Survivors of Santa Fe school shooting go back to class for first time since attack ‘We’re talking about months not years – so it’s close. There are exciting times ahead,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s You And Yours, to be broadcast on Monday.
‘I’m going for astronaut training, I’m going for fitness training, centrifuge and other training so that my body will hopefully cope well when I go to space.’
Sir Richard, tech entrepreneur Elon Musk and Amazon founder Mr Bezos are leading the charge in commercial space travel as they race to get tourists into space.
While Sir Richard believes Mr Musk is ‘doing fantastically well’ in getting cargo into space and building bigger and bigger rockets, the real tussle is between the Virgin boss and Mr Bezos.
‘I think we’re both (Sir Richard and Mr Bezos) neck and neck as to who will put people into space first. ‘Ultimately we have to do it safely. It’s more a race with ourselves to make sure we have the craft that are safe to put people up there.’
Sir Richard, 67, hopes to be one of those first space tourists. He said his astronaut training is going well so far, and he’s increased his fitness training by playing tennis four times a day.
The Virgin founder is also taking part in gruelling centrifuge training which recreates the pressures the human body experiences during space flight.
All astronauts endure G-force training which simulates the experience of take-off and travel through the earth’s atmosphere.
He added: ‘If you’re going to really enjoy the experience, the fitter you can be the better.’
Earlier this year Virgin Galactic completed a supersonic test flight of its SpaceShipTwo passenger rocket ship.
It was the first return to the air for the company since a crash in the Californian desert in 2014 in which one pilot was killed and another was injured.