Tragic Virgin Galactic crash will not deter Bill Cullen's mission to be first Irishman in space
Irish businessman Bill Cullen said he will still launch into space on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic flight, despite last week’s fatal crash.
The former Apprentice boss said he is still determined to jet off on the €200,000 space trip after last week’s ‘setback’.
“It’s a setback of course and a tragic one at that but it hasn’t changed my mind and Richard Branson is still going to go up first and hopefully I’ll be second,” the 72-year-old told the Irish Daily Mirror.
Virgin boss Branson’s SpaceShipTwo broke up in mid-air during a test flight on Friday, killing 39-year-old co-pilot Michael Alsbury and seriously injuring pilot Peter Siebold (43).
Cullen said he expects the trip to be delayed by a year.
“The crash was very tragic and it’s terrible to see but having said that Richard Branson has put hundreds of millions into the whole thing and made sure to have the best people working on it.
“It’s going to push the trip out another year or so as we were expected to go up in the next six months but we’ll have to wait for the investigations I’d imagine.”
Dubliner Cullen was one of the first well-known faces to sign up for the space trip, signing the dotted line and paying his €200,000 fare in 2004. He is planning to use the flight to raise money for Dublin’s Temple Street Children’s Hospital.
“I’m happy to go ahead as it’s not actually as dangerous as going all the way into space, we only go about 90 miles up and we’ll be back down in an hour or so.
“What happened last Friday happened but there are six other planes built and currently being tested so I’ll just have to wait now until we get the go-ahead again.”