Branson Heads for the Center of the Earth

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

With the first commercial flight of SpaceShipTwo right on schedule for this Christmas, Sir Richard Branson has time to plan a trip to where no man (outside of cheesy sci-fi novels and even cheesier movies based on said novels) has ever gone before: the center of the Earth.

Making headlines for the first time in years, Britain’s pathologically reclusive and chronically publicity-shy answer to Howard Hughes announced his latest venture, Virgin Volcanic, on the first day of April. Branson plans to screw his way to the top bottom of an active volcano and through the center of Earth’s molten core using a giant carbon-composite VVS1 vehicle that looks exactly like….wait for it….a giant screw.

“Using patented carbon-carbon materials pioneered for deep space exploration, Virgin is proud to announce a revolutionary new vehicle, VVS1, which will be capable of plunging three people into the molten lava core of an active volcano,” Virgin Volcanic announced breathlessly on its website.

“Sir Richard Branson will go on the first expedition along with Tom Hanks, Academy Award winning actor and star of Joe Versus the Volcano; Black Eyed Peas recording artist and science enthusiast Will.i.am; actor/producer Seth Green; and two-time Academy Award winning documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple.”

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Bill Richardson to Replace Rice at State?

Politico.com says that New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a big supporter of space tourism, could be on a short list to become Barack Obama’s Secretary of State:

“If the soon-to-be 44th president wants to draw on the expertise of the Democratic Party’s foreign-policy establishment, three names likely would be at the top of his State Department short list: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, former United Nations ambassador Richard Holbrooke and Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry.
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