Kiwis Waiting Patiently for Virgin Galactic Space Tourism Flights

Artists conception of WhiteKnightTwo and the SpaceShipTwo space tourism vehicle. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)
Artists conception of WhiteKnightTwo and the SpaceShipTwo space tourism vehicle. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Commercial space travel: what it might feel like
Sunday Star Times

It’s a good thing Ron Stroeven is not worried about having to wait until SpaceShipTwo is pronounced fit to take paying guests to experience the trip into space just as the test pilots have. It could be 2010, when the flamboyant founder of Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson, will turn 60. But it will probably be 2011. The company expects to do up to 18 months of test flights before taking people into space. White Knight Two made its debut flight just before Christmas last year.

Stroeven, who runs a successful international software business out of Auckland, has paid half his fare of $US200,000, his promptness putting him in the first 400-500 group of passengers sorry, astronauts to go.

Stroeven, one of four New Zealanders already committed to spending a small fortune to touch the edge of space, is just the kind of passenger apart from celebrities like Paris Hilton, Sigourney Weaver and Kiss’s Gene Simmons, whose names have been bandied over the years Virgin Galactic must love. He’s serious, patient, focused. Despite Virgin founder Branson’s blandishment at the Sydney event via a video link to “have a drink, or two, or three, or four, or five, on me”, Stroeven stuck to water.

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