News The third test flight of the commercial spaceship took it to a record 71,000 feet

The firm hopes to take first ever tourists to space later this year. Onboard cameras were able to capture its rocket-powered engine, the first time it has been used

Consumer rights: How can an air fare jump £300 in just a few minutes?

It pays to check online prices for air travel before you click the 'confirm' button...What happens when a builder demands money up front

The business on... Steve Ridgway, Chief executive, Virgin Atlantic

Branson's head pilot?

Travel 2011: The year of travelling differently

It's surely the stuff of dreams. The ultimate, fantastical, globe-spanning holiday, lasting 365 days and starting ... now. You put aside the mundane demands of the office, unburden yourself of family responsibility and sample the freshest experiences that the planet can throw you. Wherever you have been and whatever you have done, everything in this ultimate itinerary will be novel: taking advantage of new flights, you'll stay in brand-new hotels and sample brand-new holiday itineraries. Money is no object as you contemplate a year of living from a suitcase (incidentally, prices here are per person and, for packages, normally based on two sharing). Crucially your new 2011 desk diary is suddenly clear of previous engagements, and instead will read like this...

Branson set to relinquish control of Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic yesterday revealed it had been approached by a series of rivals over potential tie-ups, increasing speculation that Sir Richard Branson is preparing to relinquish control of the carrier he founded in 1984.

Rivals spark Virgin Atlantic deal talk

Virgin Atlantic today fuelled speculation it could pursue a merger or tie-up after it said it had received "a number of lines of enquiry".

Good to go: 24/11/2010

Air tax rise will make family holidays 'unaffordable'

Next week's rise in the Air Passenger Duty (APD) airport departure tax will make family holidays "unaffordable for many", Sir Richard Branson's airline Virgin Atlantic warned today.

Tax rise adds £450m to 2011 holiday bill

Next month's increase in Air Passenger Duty (APD) will add £450m to the cost of holidays in 2011, according to Virgin Atlantic. The third increase in as many years will add £240 to the cost of a four-person holiday to the US, a 33 per cent rise from 2009.

Briton arrested after fight on flight

A UK-bound jumbo jet with 451 passengers aboard had to divert due to a disruptive passenger, it was revealed today.

Trevor Beattie: This is not a power trip.It's my life's ambition

As a kid I wasn't in to sci-fi, I was in to sci-fact. The Apollo programme fascinated me, and one of my earliest memories was of the notion that man could go to the Moon. Then David Bowie came along with "Starman" and that really touched me musically. It's amazing how much the timescales have changed; we used to believe that by the 1980s we'd all be living on Mars. It seems that recently scientists have been more interested in exploring cyberspace, turning progress inwards rather than outwards.

Branson dedicates spaceport runway in US desert

The dream of rocketing tourists into space edged closer to reality yesterday, as the world's first commercial spaceport opened a runway in the New Mexico desert.

Virgin Galactic achieve first solo glide flight

Virgin Galactic's space tourism rocket SpaceShipTwo achieved its first solo glide flight, marking another step in the company's eventual plans to fly paying passengers.

Celtic Manor Diary: Bring on the boos... Mahan has a plan to provoke the crowds

With 50,000 spectators filing through the gates of Celtic Manor each day, US captain Corey Pavin's dream is not to hear a single cheer. "Quiet would be good," he said. That would mean his team is winning. Perhaps he should have a word with Hunter Mahan. The 28-year-old from Orange, California has his own plan. He likes noise. Lots of it. "I love that edgy atmosphere with the spectators almost being like a football crowd," Mahan said. "You know, you almost want the crowd to boo us."

South Africa: Eight days, four stops, one incredible journey

A new tour of the Eastern Cape mixes safari with activities such as cooking and canoeing. Olivia Greenway tried it out
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment