Bootstrapping to Space
Those who predicted SpaceShipOne would usher in a new space age for the private sector got it right.
Commercial space flight is big business already. Virgin Atlantic Airlines is creating a new firm, Virgin Galactic, to start providing suborbital space flights by 2007. Virgin Galactic will be using technology it has licensed from the SpaceShipOne project for $25 million dollars.
Like the zero G flights we reported a couple of weeks ago, there won't be an economy class on these flights. Each of five passengers will pay about $207,000 for their ticket to ride. It was not reported whether this price includes the training that each of these astro-tourists will need.
Why should we normal folks care if the jet-set becomes the astro-set?
Branson said he planned to use the proceeds from the first well-heeled customers to bring prices down in the next few years to make space travel affordable to the regular tourist.
"The orbital hotel will happen," he said.
Virgin expects 3,000 customers in the first five years.