[article] (Reuters) - Virgin Group founder Richard Branson announced on Friday that the NBC television network will be tracking preparations and will broadcast the inaugural flight of his Virgin Galactic SpaceShip Two rocket plane into space. If tests and plans go according to schedule, Branson and his two children, Holly, 31 and Sam, 28, could blast off into space from New Mexico next August, which will be aired live on NBC. "We are delighted that we are going to be working with you," Branson, 63, told Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie, the hosts of NBC television's "Today" morning show. "It is going to be an incredibly exciting year," he said. NBC plans to air a special program the night before the launch, and Lauer and Guthrie will host a three-hour live event when it takes off. "We are very, very happy to be part of this project," Lauer said, adding NBC will be a part of the entire process. The British self-made billionaire said the aircraft has already broken the sound barrier in tests and he expects by early next year to do a test flight to the edge of space. He and his children will be the first passengers on the aircraft that will have two pilots and a total of six passengers. The other passengers have not yet been announced. Nearly 700 people, including actor Leonardo DiCaprio and physicist Stephen Hawking, have signed up for the flights, which will cost up to $250,000.