Record Mogul Joins List of Virgin Galactic’s Celebritynauts

You can add another name to Richard Branson’s roster of celebritynauts. Former Highland Place Mobsters member and mega record producer Dallas Austin has a confirmed seat aboard SpaceShipTwo for a suborbital flight in 2013. 

According to Wikipedia, Austin’s list of clients have included “Michael Jackson, TLC, Boyz II Men, Pink, Monica, Madonna, Gwen Stefani, Stacie Orrico, Another Bad Creation, Fishbone, Sugababes, Anastacia, Namie Amuro, Kim from the Real Housewives of Atlanta and McFly…Austin is also known for socially conscious productions such as TLC’s ‘Unpretty’ and ‘Damaged’ and more recently ‘Ugly’ for UK act Sugababes.”

In addition to working with many famous artists, Austin has a few friends in high places. Wikipedia reports:

In July, 2006, Austin was arrested and held in a United Arab Emirates prison on drug charges. After fellow songwriter U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch interceded on Austin’s behalf, the UAE consulate in Washington D.C. placed calls to Lionel Richie for a character reference.

Richie recounts for the New York Times:

It was, ‘Tell me what kind of guy is Dallas Austin.’ I said, ‘Listen, this is a great guy. He’s done a great job for the community. A gangster, a hoodlum, a thug, he’s not.’

Austin pleaded guilty in court, apologized for his actions, and was subsequently granted a royal pardon by Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Best of luck on your flight, Austin. Let’s hope you don’t get into any scrapes with air marshalls — uh, space marshalls — along the way.