- Elon Musk wants to put humans on the Mars in seven years.
- Richard Branson says he and fellow space-focused billionaire Jeff Bezos remain focused on the Earth.
- The British entrepreneur's company Virgin Galactic "should be in space in about four months," Branson says.
Elon Musk wants to put humans on the Mars in seven years but Richard Branson says he and fellow space-focused billionaire Jeff Bezos remain focused on the Earth.
"Elon is absolutely fixated on going to Mars and I think it's his life mission," Branson said on "Squawk Box" on Wednesday. "Jeff and ourselves [at the Virgin Group] are more interested in how we can use space to benefit the Earth."
Bezos is the founder of private spaceflight services company Blue Origin, which is testing its reusable New Glenn rocket and building rocket-manufacturing facilities. Musk's SpaceX, which was first started in 2002, has been recently challenging Boeing and Lockheed Martin's long-time monopoly over U.S. military launches. Earlier this year, SpaceX landed a $97 million contract to launch a military satellite.
"I think space needs a lot of companies doing lots of different things to benefit the Earth back here," Branson said.
Branson's space company, Virgin Galactic, has yet to send a manned craft into space — but that may soon change. He said the spaceship VSS Unity "should be in space in about four months."
He touts his company is the only one that's "built a spaceship with wheels," emphasizing that his company's reusability concept will take more people into orbit.
Virgin Orbit is a further endeavor by Branson, which he spun-off out of Virgin Galactic to build air-launched rockets to send dozens of small satellites into orbit. Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne system is still in development. The company is planning the rocket's first test flight for early next year, with the system's Boeing 747-400 launcher in its final stages of flight testing.
Branson believes the Earth to be "extremely beautiful" and in need of protection. The British entrepreneur wants to send people to space as soon as possible to learn more about how mankind can enable that protection.
"There are thousands of people who would love the opportunity of becoming astronauts and going into space," Branson added.