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Future Virgin Galactic passenger: The new space race 'isn't a race at all'

Sara Dramer
Associate Producer

Billionaires Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Sir Richard Branson are all trying to be the first to launch a successful space tourism program — but is it a space race?

“It’s not a race at all,” future Virgin Galactic passenger Namira Salim told Yahoo Finance’s The Final Round, “we all say that in the industry.”

Salim said that while Bezos’s Blue Origin is in competition with Virgin Galactic because they’re both working in suborbital flight, Musk’s SpaceX is something different.

“What Elon is doing — He’s not in a race because he’s already ahead of the game,” Salim said. “He’s gone orbital. He’s now going to take NASA astronauts to space.”

Salim said Virgin Galactic’s market is space tourism.

Salim was one of the first to join Virgin Galactic. She said she paid upfront in 2006.

Virgin Galactic charges $250,000 per seat for the 90-minute flight and says it has sold more than 600 tickets.

Virgin Galactic’s space tourism rocket plane SpaceShipTwo returns after a test flight from Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California, U.S. December 13, 2018. REUTERS/Gene Blevins

Just last week Branson announced plans to take Virgin Galactic public later this year, which will make it the first ever public space tourism company. He projects the company to become profitable by August 2021, and will fly its first customers within a year, according to an interview with CNBC.

But, Branson said in a recent blog post that one of his most enduring habits is talking about plans that are yet to come to fruition, so that timeline may not be set in stone.

As for when Salim thinks she’ll finally be able to get into orbit, she said, “It’s hard to put a date. If you ask Richard Branson that he’s going to tell you we’ll go now or this year but you can’t really give a date. I think we can only be getting closer”

Sara Dramer is a producer for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on twitter @saradramer.

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