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Space tourism' to start in 18 months

"We are 18 months away from taking people into space," says billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson. Branson's latest venture -- Virgin Galactic -- is reportedly on track to launch commercial space travel in the near future and hopes to couple successful rocket trips with cozy space hotel stays in the future.

In March, Branson's SpaceshipTwo passenger rocket, built by aviation engineer Burt Rutan, made its maiden flight over the California desert.

According to AFP, Branson estimates round-trip space travel fares to start at $200,000 each. The company already boasts a reported $45 million in deposits from more than 330 people waiting to be among the first civilians to travel into space.

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