Virgin Galactic's next crewed test flight will include Richard Branson

Richard Branson, the founder of private space company Virgin Galactic, has announced that he will be part of the crew for the company's next test flight. Branson will be joined by a handful of crew members who'll "help validate" the system, paving the way for future launches involving astronauts. Among other things, Branson says it is time for him to "assess the astronaut experience."

Though SpaceX and Boeing tend to get the most attention when it comes to private space projects, Virgin Galactic has been steadily making its own waves in the field. Back in May, the company completed a successful flight; likewise, Virgin recently received the FAA's approval for a Full Commercial Launch License.

In an announcement on the company's website today, Branson noted that there are more tests planned for the future, but that it is now time for him to join the crew in experiencing the process for himself. "I've always been a dreamer," Branson said. "My mum taught me to never give up and to reach for the starts."

Assuming everything goes according to schedule, the next test flight — the one that will include Branson — will take place on July 11. The company's founder is pictured in Virgin Galactic's bright blue spacesuits alongside a handful of crew. This will also mark the first time Virgin Galactic will offer a worldwide live stream of a test flight.

Branson says he will "announce something very exciting" after the crew returns to Earth post-flight. He teases that this announcement will have to do with bringing other people to space, noting in his statement that:

I truly believe that space belongs to all of us. After 17 years of research, engineering and innovation, the new commercial space industry is poised to open the universe to humankind and change the world for good.