January 11th, 2013 02:40 AM
In October 2010, Virgin Galactic opened a runway in a desert in New Mexico to support almost every aircraft in the world, day-to-day space tourism and payload launch operations.
Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic aims to bring tourists to space aboard its SpaceShipTwo. Tickets for the 2 1/2-hour suborbital flights cost $200,000 and include five minutes of weightlessness.
Over 500 people have booked their Virgin Galactic tickets, and according to various reports, flights for space tourists may begin this year.
Branson of the Virgin Group counts airlines, entertainment and mobile communications among his businesses.
Another space exploration company, Excalibur Almaz, announced last year its plan to fly people to the moon.
Art Dula, founder of Excalibur Almaz, said that with the combination of its space stations and reentry shuttle vessels, the British firm would be able to take anyone to the moon as early as 2015.
According to a New York Times report, Excalibur Almaz’s offer comes with an estimated $150-million price tag.
The same report added that for just $50 million, Space Adventures in Virginia could bring a private citizen to the International Space Station (ISS).
So far, seven people have taken a trip to the ISS, including former Microsoft executive Charles Simonyi. Space Adventures announced that international singing star Sarah Brightman would be its next space flight client. Inquirer Research
Sources: Inquirer archives, New York Times, websites of Virgin Galactic, Space Adventures and Excalibur Almaz