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Branson: phone-in sparked space bid

Businessman Sir Richard Branson has admitted he got the idea for his commercial space flight venture during a phone-in on a children's TV show.

The Virgin boss told Jonathan Ross he first thought about it in 1988 on the BBC Saturday morning show Going Live when someone suggested it during a viewer phone-in.

Appearing on Ross's ITV chat show tonight, he says: " You never know what sparks things off in your mind but as as result of that show we registered the name Virgin Galactic Airways.

"Over the next decade I started travelling around the world meeting technicians and engineers to see if we could find a genius who could build a spaceship that could take you and me into space."

Sir Richard says the idea was the " beginning of a whole new era of space travel" and was "the most ridiculously exciting thing that I've done in my lifetime".

He adds: "If we can get enough people wanting to fly it then we can start building Virgin hotels in space, we can start doing trips to Mars."

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