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www.wmfd.com - Hundreds of deep-pocketed travelers are shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for a seat on the first spaceship offering rides to ordinary consumers. }}" />

   
 
 
Hundreds Sign Up For Virgin's Consumer Space Travel

Story By: Larry Stine

 

 

 
 
 
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  Original Published: 10/6/2013 Some call it the ultimate adventure, if you can afford it. Hundreds of deep-pocketed travelers are shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for a seat on the first spaceship offering rides to ordinary consumers. Virgin's "Galactic" will start shuttling passengers to weightlessness next year. Poppy Harlow looks at the next frontier in space travel. Who would spend up to a quarter of a million dollars for just minutes in space? "Seeing the spaceship here is just absolutely mind-blowing," says Caroline Freeland, a Virgin Galactic ticket holder. "It's not about the destination, it's about the journey," says James Lennon Tan, also a Virgin Galactic ticket holder. These people, more than 600 have signed on. "How much to charter one of these puppies?" asked CNN's Poppy Harlow. "One point-two-mill," answered Ping Chuangm, a Virgin Galactic ticket holder. "Wow! And I hear you're going to leave two seats empty, so its just the family?" asked Harlow. "No, its not empty. There's two angels coming with us," said Chuang. "Passengers won't just check in and hop on board," says Harlow. "They'll get three days of training and health checks, then a few hours in flight,with about three minutes weightless in space." The mothership will carry "Spaceship 2" up, then release it to glide back to Earth, unlike NASA's rockets, it won't orbit the Earth. Sir Richard Branson is determined to take them there. "Is this the new space race?" asked Harlow. "I think it's the start of a new space race," says Branson. "It's not been easy, it's taken us five years more than we thought it would take, but, finally, they've pulled it off." That is, if the FAA gives Galactic the green light. Virgin says commercial launch is just months away. "We're broaching out into a new field in the sky, and we're gonna have some mishaps that happen now," says Michael Moyer, Senior Editor of Scientific America. "Hopefully, they won't be catastrophic." "Do you ever fear you are putting too much at risk with this?" asked Harlow. "People risked a lot to get space off the ground in the first place," says Branson. "Unless you risk something, the world stays still." Branson is such a believer, he plans to take the first flight with his own children. David Mackay will be at the controls. "We don't want to push too hard too quickly," he says,. "It'd be nice to be first to do it but the most important thing is to do it right. Whoever is first has to be right." "What is your ultimate dream with this?" asked Harlow. "We'll start with giving people a taste of space, then we'll send people into orbital flight, start building hotels in space," says Branson. "Really? In our lifetime?" asked Harlow. "Well, in your lifetime definitely, hopefully, in my lifetime," Branson said. Branson thinks the Galactic program could be the most profitable business Virgin has ever run. He says he hopes to see commercial space flight develop to offer faster destination travel, like two-hour flights from New York to Australia.
   
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