Richard Branson said his first trip to space Sunday exceeded his long-standing expectations.
"I’ve always dreamt about what it would be like to be in space looking back at this incredible earth," Branson said exclusively to NBC's "TODAY" show in an interview that aired Monday. "It’s impossible to describe just how magnificent it is."
The billionaire entrepreneur earned his astronaut wings Sunday after the historic flight to the edge of space with a full crew aboard a rocket-powered vehicle developed by his space tourism company, Virgin Galactic.
"I’m afraid nobody will be able to take them away from us — once you’re an astronaut you’re always an astronaut," he said.
Branson's son and daughter said they were nervous about their father's space trip.
"I don't think I would be a loving son if I wasn’t worried," Sam Branson said.
His daughter, Holly, added that she "knew fundamentally they were going to come back, but it’s quite hard when you’re dad’s going to do something so pioneering that no one else has really done."
"I only did it to see whether she loved me," Branson quipped.
Branson's trip edges out that of fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos, who plans to take a similar flight on July 20 aboard a rocket and capsule designed by his space company, Blue Origin.
Branson shrugs off notions of a rivalry between him and the Amazon founder.
Bezos congratulated Branson on Sunday. "Can’t wait to join the club!" he said.
Branson also had only kind words for Bezos. "I hope he has an extraordinary experience as we did," he said.
Sunday's flight reached 53.5 miles high, affording the crew about four minutes of weightlessness.
Virgin Galactic is expected to conduct several more test flights before it begins commercial operations with private customers next year. The company has said trips to the edge of space are likely to cost more than $250,000 each, but final pricing has not yet been announced.