Celebrities dust off their spacesuits

Celebrities dust off their spacesuits
By admin

Ashton Kutcher's plan to buy Mila Kunis a space flight as a wedding gift will grow Virgin Galactic's celebrity headcount further, as it revealed a 2014 launch date is looking likely.

The company confirmed Leonardo DiCaprio and Justin Bieber have already joined Kutcher among the high-profile customers for its forthcoming spaceflights, with its total tally of passengers now at 600.

Although it expects to achieve a full space flight by the end of the year, the company will have to undertake a number of other tasks before it can take its first paying customers into space.

"We will need to undertake a number of test spaceflights, fit and flight test the interior and of course move the vehicles and the spaceline operation down to Spaceport America," a Virgin Galactic spokesperson told Travel Today.

"Our best estimate at the moment, if test flights continue as expected, is that we could see the first paying customer flights in 2014."

But the firm stressed that safety will always be its "North Star", meaning dates may shift to ensure customers can travel securely.

"As always, the Spaceship test program, first test flight to space and start date for commercial service will be dictated by safety," the spokesperson said.

The success of the recent supersonic, rocket powered flight of SpaceshipTwo was hailed as a "huge step forward" and highlighted as the first time a vehicle built for commercial service had broken the sound barrier since Concorde – the only other vehicle ever to do so.

Meanwhile, Virgin Glaactic named its 600th passenger as Marsha Waters, the owner of an accounting services company in Blackpool in the UK.

But no matter who signs up for the spaceflight – be it DiCaprio or Waters – the passengers for the first official flight will be none other than Virgin boss Richard Branson himself, accompanied by his children.

Email the Travel Weekly team at traveldesk@travelweekly.com.au

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