msnbc News   |  May 16, 2011

Branson calls NASA a monopoly

Virgin Galactic's Richard Branson explains to MSNBC's Contessa Brewer how private enterprise will take the reins from NASA in the space race.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> there for the launch, the first time he was able to see a launch in person. i talked with the space entrepreneur about whether the end of the shuttle program will create more opportunities for private industry to fill the void.

>> i think it does. nasa has done a wonderful job over the last 60 years. but they have been a monopoly. and they haven't had any competition. and private companies haven't really, you know, had the opportunity to set up and compete. now nasa has accepted that private companies can do it at a fraction of the price that a government-run company can do it. and they are actually encouraging the likes of virgin galactic to get set up to take people into space at a price which is a lot less. the shuttle today cost a billion dollars to send off. you know, private companies will be able to do it for just the tiniest fraction of that.

>> i also talked with branson about the concern about huge numbers of nasa employees losing their jobs and i asked whether he would hire some of those folks.

>> well, the head of virgin galactic is george whiteside, who use ed to be a senior employee at nasa . i'm sure there will be other people from nasa that are taken on, not just by virgin galactic but by spaceex and others in the space industry . nasa still has a big mission to do. and it is a wonderful organization. i think, you know, a lot of employees are going to be needed as nasa as well. but we very much look forward to working with them going forward in the future and if people do lose their jobs from nasa , we'll be interested in talking to them.

>> he said virgin galactic will be doing suborbital flights at first, but he wants to be able to take people to maybe hotels in outer space , big plans for space exploration .