Indian television network NDTV posted a transcript of a recent interview with Richard Branson. (The transcript is very rough; perhaps it has gone through multiple translations, such as from English to Hindi back to English, given the odd language found in it.) In the interview, Branson appears to indicate that SpaceShipTwo will be rolled out at the end of the year, followed by ninth months of test flights before beginning customer flights. He also says, puzzlingly, “In July of this year, we will fly them over ship for the first time”—a reference to the first flights of White Knight Two?
As for those occasional reports that William Shatner was offered (or had accepted) a flight on SS2, Branson said, “He definitely made it clear that he was quite frightened to go into the space and I got a feeling that he will never actually go into the space.” Regarding the risks of human spaceflight, he added, “anybody going into the space will have to accept that there are more inherited risks in the space travel than the airline travel. But we hope that within three years or so, it will be no great a risk.”