Richard Branson’s spaceflight company has restarted powered tests of its spaceplane following a tragic accident two years ago which resulted in the death of co-pilot Michael Alsbury. Branson himself has confirmed that the company is going to resume powered flight tests in the near future. He has also confirmed that Virgin Galactic is aiming to start flying commercial trips by next year.

Branson revealed to Bloomberg that the company is currently conducting glide-only tests which will be wrapped up soon. Once they’re done, the company will begin powered flight tests at the pace of one every three weeks. Higher altitudes will be reached with each flight test until the company eventually takes its craft up to the very edge of space by December this year.

The billionaire founder of Virgin Galactic will be making a trip himself. Branson will be one of the first tourists to space by mid-2018. Assuming everything goes well by then, Virgin Galactic would start offering full commercial flights to paying tourists.

All of this hinges on everything going smoothly. Space flights are no joke and intense preparation will be required to ensure that everything is up to the mark and that the chances of something going wrong are minimized.

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