Virgin Galactic will take people to space by Christmas, says Richard Branson

That gives Virgin Galactic less than a month to start firing people into space.

Gordon Gottsegen CNET contributor
Gordon Gottsegen is a tech writer who has experience working at publications like Wired. He loves testing out new gadgets and complaining about them. He is the ghost of all failed Kickstarters.
Gordon Gottsegen
Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo

Branson in front of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo.

Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Virgin Galactic may hit a major milestone this coming month: finally sending people to space.

CEO Richard Branson said he was "reasonably confident" that Virgin Galactic would send its first astronauts into space before Christmas, in an interview with CNN.

Virgin Galactic's goal is to eventually send "space tourists" into orbit, but the company has to first send professional astronauts to space first before it can start transporting paying passengers.

After the first few test flights --which Branson acknowledges will be "the dangerous ones"-- Branson says he will be the first passenger to fly to space.

Branson has been promising imminent launches since 2007, but he has been doubling down on his claims recently. In July, Branson said he hoped to go to space before the end of 2018. Then in October, he said Virgin Galactic would "be in space within weeks, not months."

It might be best to take Branson's word with a small grain of salt until Virgin Galactic delivers. But with Christmas less than a month away, we don't have to wait very long to find out.

Virgin Galactic didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.