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Virgin Galactic booking space flights now

Orbital's proposed space vehicle for NASA's Commercial Crew Development-2 program is depicted in rendezvous and berthing operations with the International Space Station.

When private companies start ferry-service operations to Earth orbit, a ticket will probably cost millions of dollars - at least initially. So space travel will remain unaffordable for most private citizens for a while yet. But, in the very near future, some entrepreneurs are planning to offer a taste of space at slightly more down-to-Earth prices.

Virgin Galactic is taking reservations for sub-orbital flights on its six-passenger plane, SpaceShipTwo. Flights are scheduled to begin in two years from Spaceport America in New Mexico. A $200,000 ticket will get you briefly above an altitude of 100 kilometres, which is at the edge of space. Travellers will see the curvature of the Earth and experience several minutes of weightlessness. It still isn't cheap, but $200,000 is within reach of a broader market. And bargain hunters may be able to get better deals. A competing company, XCOR Lynx, says it plans to charge only $95,000 a seat.

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