Letters to the Editor - 07/01 - Space travel, Best of Twitter

Space travel

[Re: Which technological development will see the most game-changing advances in 2014?, yesterday]

Commercial space travel could be the most exciting technological development this year. In 2013, we saw the final technical pieces of the complex jigsaw puzzle for our human spaceflight programme fall into place. Early-2014 will see our pilots further expanding the flight envelope, until they touch space itself. We are optimistic that this will be the year Richard Branson will become our inaugural flight austronaut, and that we will become the world’s first operational commercial spaceline – starting to fly some of the 700 private individuals already signed up for the experience. Those first flights will provide an unmissable signal that a new space age is upon us. It will fundamentally change our relationship with space, and could unlock its potential to improve life here on Earth. Already, we are developing a revolutionary small satellite launcher and planning for orbital and intercontinental space flights. 2014 may not be the year holiday-makers will take a trip to the moon, but it may be the year that makes it possible.

Stephen Attenborough, commercial director, Virgin Galactic



Divergence at the heart of Eurozone continues. Germany composite PMI 55 in December. France: 47.3.

Poor start to 2014 for emerging market equities, already down 3.3 per cent.

Mixed messages: promising welfare austerity 24 hours after promising to extend triple lock on state pensions.

Lord Ashcroft poll: all age groups except over-65s would prefer a ConLib coalition over Tory majority.