Got $50M for a vacation? If so, try outer space
When he started talking about commercial space travel 20 years ago, Richard Branson must’ve gotten the same derisive look that Dean Kamen guy did when he tried to mass sell the Segway.
Think about that: 1991! That was nearly half a decade before the Internet, and a year when we first learned the name Jeffrey Dahmer and “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” was the calendar’s top song. Who has foresight like that?
Apparently, Branson, the British billionaire that registered his Virgin Galactic outfit that year, placing him at the forefront of space tourism, which amazingly is coming soon.
Yes, you’ve heard about this preposterous venture before, but a new USA Today feature details just how close regulated, widespread space tourism may be.
“It’s happening,” John Spencer, founder of the L.A.-based Space Tourism Society, tells the paper. “There’s a market. There’s a waiting line … Our ultimate goal is: Tens of thousands of space tourists actually leave Earth, go to orbital cruise ships, lunar ships, lunar resorts, and have a great time.”
According to USA Today, hundreds have already put down big bucks for space flights that could begin as early as next year; the first private person to fly into space, of course, was American engineer Dennis Tito, who famously paid $20 million to travel on the Russian rocket Soyuz in 2001.
Since, at least eight people have been known to pay to fly into space, and of course the trip doesn’t come cheap. A seat on the Lynx Mark II, a suborbital flight that shoots 60 miles up in the air and glides back to earth, is the cheapest trip at $95,000 per seat. And that only lasts 35 minutes.
From there, get out the wallets. Seats on Branson’s Virgin Galactic spacecraft, which is aiming to launch commercially a year earlier than the Lynx Mark II, in 2012, go for about $200,000 a piece. Or, there is the primo package: a trip on the Soyuz to the International Space Station, the vacation that could be yours for just $50 million.
Absurd prices? Absolutely, but the men behind the burgeoning space travel industry swear there’s a market – 425 people have already paid about $60 million in deposits for future trips, said one source – and that the trips will be safe when they launch.
Could we, then, be seeing this?
“My sense is we’re on a very similar path,” Stephen Attenborough, Virgin Galactic’s commercial director, said of the comparison between space tourism now and commercial aviation 100 years ago.
“At the moment, most people would assume they’d never go into space. I think they’re going to be wrong … My view of the future is that, maybe in 30-to-40 years, most people who want to go to space will have the opportunity to do it, and that it will be affordable.”
What’s your interest in visiting space as recreation in the future? More or less than $50 million worth?
By Jason Buckland, MSN Money
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