Self-made billionaire Richard Branson recently said he expects to be in space in six months or else he'll be disappointed. Leading up to his upcoming travel with Virgin Galactic, a business he created to provide commercial flights to space, Branson said he's actually been taking two steps to make sure he's prepared for his trip: exercising on a daily basis and doing centrifuge training to simulate gravity.
During an interview with Esquire editor-in-chief Jay Fielden for a Master Class at Hearst Tower, Branson said this project has been 12 years in the making and has taken "lots of tears and hard work, but we're nearly there."
In his new autobiography, "Finding My Virginity, " Branson said that getting into space with Virgin Galactic has been one of his biggest challenges.
He noted the tragic moment nearly three years ago when Michael Alsbury, one of the test pilots, made a "tiny error" that cost him his life.
"In testing the boundaries of human capabilities and technologies, we are standing on the shoulders of giants. Yesterday, we fell short," Branson recalled saying the day after Alsbury's fatal crash. "We are determined to honor the bravery of the pilots and teams here by learning from this tragedy. Only then can we move forward, united behind a collective desire to push the boundaries of human endeavor."
Since then, 600-700 engineers and test pilots have picked themselves up and have brought Virgin Galactic three to four months away from the next test pilot flight, according to Branson.
Branson also noted in his book that he has questioned whether his motives for going to space are selfish, but said: "I only have one life and if we can pull this off it will be extraordinary and make so much difference to so many people."
Branson envisions the initial journeys will be brief and take about three and half hours. "You'll go into space, we've got big windows to unbuckle, float about, become an astronaut," he said.
Despite how challenging and intense the process of preparing for his flight in April or May of next year, Branson said the main step he is taking is to remain active.
"Fortunately, I'm a great believer in keeping fit and healthy," Branson said. The billionaire begins and ends his days with his favorite sports.
"I wake up every morning and play a hard game of singles tennis and maybe go kite surfing," he said. "I play tennis again in the evenings."
Even at 67, Branson's penchant for daily exercise not only prepare him for space travel, but it's also his trick to being more productive every day. Along with other activities like running and cycling, Branson has said working out helped him get where he is today.
"I definitely can achieve twice as much by keeping fit," Branson tells FourYourBodyPress. "It keeps the brain functioning well."
The other step Branson said that he has been taking to prepare for his trip is centrifuge or "high-G" training. A human centrifuge spins at a high enough speed to simulate the feeling of gravity during a space mission and helps prevent future bodily damage. In 2009, he was seen training at the NASTAR Center, even pumping his fist while doing so.
"You actually replicate how your body is going to feel as you go from north of 3000 miles an hour in seconds, so that's quite a thrust heading up," Branson said.
"It's so important to go through that so that when you actually go into space, you just lie back and enjoy the whole experience," he said at the time.
"I think I'm ready for it and obviously I've waited a long time for it so I'm thoroughly looking forward to it."
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