It sounds cliché and a little cheesy, but for a few hard earned dollars, you can go where no man (make that civilian-person to be PC) has gone before. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic commercial spaceline is now selling tickets for sub-orbital flights beginning in 2008. To answer your first question, yes there are takers. In fact well over 100 tickets have already been sold. To answer your second question, the tickets are a mere $200,000, which isn’t that bad a deal if regular airline flight prices keep rising! The spacecraft that will make all of this possible should be completed next year.
The 15 minute flight will offer passengers 5 minutes of 0 gravity. That’s just about enough time to feel the urge to grab for a barf bag and then realize you no longer need it. Unfortunately the flight probably won’t be long enough for stewards (if there will be any) to traverse up and down the aisle dispensing Tang and salted peanuts. Although if they did, think of the mess it would make at the end of the 0 gravity period. Heck, the falling nuts alone would be potential bullets.
As if that experience isn’t excitement enough, check out this space travel alternative. It’s only $35 million. Travelers have had the option to travel in a Russian rocket to the International Space Station for a while now and at least 3 (that I’m aware of) have already made the trip. Remember pop sensation Justin Timberlake expressing interest in going? The little trek to the space station, if you’ll pardon the expression, costs $20 million. Once you get up there, you can now tack on a space walk for an extra $15 million. Talk about up selling! Of course there will be extra training involved, but if you can afford it, what a great way to spend an evening.
The paying space walkers will be attached to the International Space Station during the entire space walk by a tether. The walk will last 90 minutes during which time Earth’s sunrise and sunset can be viewed. I wonder if you have to pay a penalty if you drop a spatula while you’re up there? Regardless, it would provide a great photo op and a big “I’m better than you are” for next year’s Christmas card!