Virgin Galactic’s Sir Richard Branson spoke enthusiastically during a webcast over the weekend to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the final spaceflight by SpaceShipOne, the smaller predecessor to the currently in final testing SpaceShipTwo rocket plane. During his talk, Branson said he believes that Virgin Galactic is on the verge of a major breakthrough in manned space flight.

Virgin Galactic's On Track for 2015 Inaugural Passenger Flights

Virgin Galactic – Quote from Branson

Commenting on the almost-finalized SpaceShipTwo program during the celebration of the 10-year anniversary of receiving the Ansari X prize, Branson said, “We have a fantastic team, and I’m not going to say any dates…but we’re on the verge.”

“It’s been a great voyage,” Branson quipped with a smile, adding, “It has taken longer than we thought.”

That humorous comment was well-received by the audience, especially give that back when Virgin Galactic was just getting underway in 2004, Branson stated that he believed that SpaceShipTwo would be flying customers by 2007.

Virgin Galactic – Industry comments

“They’re doing it the right way,” Michael Lopez-Alegria, president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation and a former NASA astronaut, said about Virgin Galactic in a recent interview. “They’re taking their time. They’re being safe. They’re making sure they have all the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted.”

Virgin Galactic – SpaceShipTwo successful test flight

Virgin Galactic’s long-awaited SpaceShipTwo rocket plane soared through the atmosphere and glided back down to Earth during a successful test flight early Tuesday morning. Today’s flight was the craft’s first since a similar gliding test back in mid-August. During the test flight, SpaceShipTwo uncoupled from its WhiteKnightTwo carrier plane and test pilots Pete Siebold of Scaled Composites and C.J. Sturckow of Virgin Galactic flew the craft back to Mojave Air and Space Port in California.

Virgin Galactic sent out a tweet following the safe landing: “Today’s flight brings spaceflight closer.” SpaceShipTwo is the new commercial spacecraft that Branson is counting on to transport paying passengers into space and back.