British entrepreneur, Richard Branson, is strenuously denying rumours that he has visited Mars, instead claiming that his two year absence from the media spotlight was because he was working for his company, Virgin Holdings.
Branson is one of the handful of people who are setting up a space tourism industry, and did indicate that he would be the first passenger once the slightly dangerous kinks were taken out of the system that result in the rockets blowing up. Branson's space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, already has several wealthy individuals signed up to follow Branson beyond the atmosphere.
A leaked memo from Virgin Holdings has indicated that perhaps Branson has not been working for the company for the past two years as he claims, but instead fulfilled his ambition of going into space on a Virgin Galactic ship. However, due to a miscalculation in speed, the craft did not just attain orbit, but instead missed it's slot and ended up going to Mars.
Known to be a prepared individual, it is likely that Branson had stocked the craft up with plenty of food and equipment, enough perhaps to take him to Mars and back.
"It's got to be preposterous," said Sir Patrick Moore, the most famous astronomer to have ever lived. "Even assuming that he could actually make it to the red planet, why would he then land?"
David Levy, of Shoemaker-Levy fame, disagrees with Britain's biggest astronomer: "I believe he would have had to land in order to use local resources to make enough fuel to return home. A two year time line is quite probable for such an endeavour."
Branson, looking quite gaunt, continued his denials: "Look, I've been in my study all this time, doing emails and stuff. I've not been to Mars, that would be virgin on the ridiculous. Oh, and that's just a replica of the Beagle 2 lander that disappeared."