More people have now signed up for suborbital flights aboard Richard Branson’s SpaceShipTwo than have ever been in space.
To date, 528 people have travelled in space. But over 529 soon to be astronauts have put down deposits to travel 68 miles above the Earth’s surface. There are reports that celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Tom Hanks and Katy Perry have signed up.
Branson’s tickets to space cost $200K, but he is by no means the only player. Excalibur Almaz plans to take people on six month long journeys around the moon for the price of $155 million. In March, the FAA predicted that private space travel will become a billon-dollar industry within the next decade.
Will space become the new pit stop for the jet set?
New Holiday Destination - The Moon
Isle of Man based company, Excalibur Almaz has announced that they will be able to take tourists to the moon no later than 2015. The cost of space travel is £100 million for a six - eight month voyage touring space around our planet Earth. (Deep pocketed customers will also need to commit to six months of space training in California).
The founders purchased a second hand Soviet spacecraft which they claim have given them an edge over their US based competitors, SpaceX. They believe that using a proven vessel rather than tinkering with new technology will allow them to take passengers deeper into space.
Space enthusiasts will be thrilled to know that not only an earth orbit, but a trip to the moon is possible, though it remains to be seen whether this appropriation of government technology for consumer leisure will be a success. Valery Tokarev, a Russian cosmonaut who advises the company warns, “If you make a mistake in space, it will kill you.”
“It is like how private British companies led expeditions to the South Pacific in the 17th century. We’ve just gone from seafaring to spacefaring." - Art Dula, founder of Excalibur Almaz.