Richard Branson said Monday his Virgin Galactic will begin space test flights in a matter of weeks. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 9 (UPI) -- British entrepreneur Richard Branson said Tuesday his Virgin Galactic company is just weeks away from launching space test flights.
Virgin Galactic aims to launch the first commercial passenger flight into space, and is in tough competition with U.S. space company Blue Origin.
Tuesday, Branson said the test flights are near.
"We are more than tantalizingly close now, so we should be in space within weeks, not months," he told CNBC. "Then we will be in space with myself in months and not years.
"We will be in space with people not too long after that so we have got a very, very exciting couple of months ahead."
Blue Origin, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has said it aims for test flights by the end of 2018.
Branson has been working out and going through astronaut training and centrifuge training in recent months to prepare for making the journey himself.
Virgin Galactic says its spacecraft will take passengers 68 miles above the Earth's surface for a price of $250,000.
A test flight successfully flew over the Mojave Desert months ago and the billionaire's goal is for the next set of test flights to reach space by burning longer and faster.
Branson has invested in space travel since 2004, and had initially expected to fly into to space himself sometime this year.