Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo

Yesterday, January 23, 2008, entrepreneur Richard Branson unveiled a model of the “spaceship” he hopes will take paying passengers on space flights beginning in 2009. His company, Virgin Galactic, is charging $200,000 per two-and-a-half hour flight.

That’s pretty expensive considering the flights won’t actually be going into outer space. Technically, passengers will be taken on a sub-orbital flight 62 miles above sea level. By comparison, the Moon is 240,000 miles above sea level. Passengers will be weightless for about five minutes though. Isn’t five minutes of nausea worth $200,000?

Over 200 people have signed up so far, including actress Victoria Principal and physicist Stephen Hawking. Imagine him in his wheelchair spinning around weightless puking all over everyone.

Also entering the business is Bigelow Aerospace, a company aimed at creating space hotels. Seriously.