Group Of Billionaires Working To Make Private Space Travel A Reality

CBS4's Chris Martinez has more on the efforts from Richard Branson, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.

Video Transcript

- Well, the promise of private space travel is coming closer to reality thanks to some well known billionaires.

- One company is selling seeds for a new craft that could take passengers above the earth next year, while another company is trying to get to Mars. CBS4's Chris Martinez has the details.

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CHRIS MARTINEZ: Virgin Galactic believes this brand-new spacecraft will give paying customers a chance to be an astronaut.

RICHARD BRANSON: It's tremendously exciting. It's been a long-- a long journey to get this far.

CHRIS MARTINEZ: Sir Richard Branson is the billionaire behind the operation and says the VSS Imagine will have test flights this summer, including one that he will go on. This is the third version of the Virgin spacecraft. Previous flights were carried up aboard a mothership--

- Two, one. Release, release, release.

CHRIS MARTINEZ: --and then dropped back down to earth. Future missions will head miles above the planet's surface and allow tourists to unbuckle and experience several minutes of weightlessness. The first launch could be next year, with tickets already selling for $250,000.

RICHARD BRANSON: Our plan is to build a number of spaceships and so we could maybe get up to sort of 400 or 500 flights a year. And then we will try to get it down to a price where as many people as possible are able to go up.

CHRIS MARTINEZ: Branson isn't the only billionaire reaching for the stars. Amazon's Jeff Bezos tested his latest Blue Origin rocket in January with hopes of one day taking tourists up.

ELON MUSK: I'm so proud to work with such a great team.

CHRIS MARTINEZ: And Tesla's Elon Musk has SpaceX.

- One.

CHRIS MARTINEZ: One of the company's experimental rockets blasted off on a cloudy Tuesday in Texas, exploding during the flight. It's designed to return to earth, but a test earlier this month also ended in an explosion.

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Virgin's spacecraft lands like an airplane. The company had its own crash in 2014 that killed one of the pilots. There have been many successful tests since then and the company expects to give people an out-of-this-world experience and bring them back safely. Chris Martinez, CBS News, Los Angeles.