CAPE CANAVERAL (CBSMiami) – The promise of private space travel is coming closer to reality thanks to some well-known billionaires. One company is selling seats for a new craft that could take passengers above the Earth next year, while another company is trying to get to Mars.

Virgin Galactic believes the VSS Imagine spacecraft will give paying customers a chance to be an astronaut.

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“It’s tremendously exciting. It’s been a long, a long journey to get this far,” says Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group.

Branson is the billionaire behind the operation and says the new spacecraft will have test flights this summer, including one that he will go on.

This is the third version of the Virgin spacecraft. Previous flights were carried up aboard a mother ship and then dropped back down to Earth.

Future missions will head miles above the planet’s surface and allow tourists to unbuckle and experience several minutes of weightlessness.

The first launch could be next year with tickets already selling for $250,000.

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“Our plan is to build a number of spaceships so we can maybe get up to 400 or 500 flights a year, and then we will try to get it down to a price where as many people as possible are able to go up,” says Branson.

Branson isn’t the only billionaire reaching for the stars.

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos tested his latest Blue Origin rocket in January with hopes of one day taking tourists up.

And Tesla’s Elon Musk has SpaceX. The company is developing rockets that can eventually carry cargo to the Moon and Mars.

An experimental rocket blasted off Tuesday on a foggy Texas day and exploded during the flight.

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Virgin’s spacecraft lands like an airplane. The company had its own crash in 2014 that killed one of the pilots. There have been many successful tests since then and the company expects to give people an out of this world experience and bring them back safely.

CBSMiami.com Team