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Bootstrapping to Space

Billionaire Sir Richard Branson holds a scale model of a spacecraft following a news conference. Branson announced that Virgin Group would begin offering space flights in 2007 for groups of up to five passengers. REUTERS/Toby Melvill

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.

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I have to admit, the thought of a thriving space-tourism industry puts a sizeable grin on my mug. So, when I heard that Sir Richard Branson was going to start the race to space profits, there was a whole lotta smiling going on (hat-tip: InstaCorleone) ... [Read More]

Comments

Well, it finally looks like all those SF novels I read as a youngster are finally coming to fruition. This in the eye of all the naysayers of the world who look only to this planet and its finite potentials to support the human races ever expanding population. These "baby step" forays into the commercial aspects of space travel are in actuality the real "giant steps" for mankind as they bring about the possibility of an economic incentive for space exploitation and not just military initiatives. Three cheers for Branson and other modern day "Hearts of Oak".

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