Richard Branson's space tourism foray — "Virgin Galactic"

BoingBoing reader Jonathan Wrigley says, "Combine the chutzpah of Sir Richard Branson with the smarts of SpaceShipOne designer Burt Rutan (a bit of of Paul Allen's cash helps too), and you've got Virgin's latest venture – VirginGalactic. Suborbital space tourism for the rest of us!" Link

Shown here: Branson holds a model of the Virgin-licensed spacecraft. Five of these "spaceliners" will be built in the US by Mojave Aerospace Ventures, the team behind SpaceShipOne (which makes a go at the Ansari X-Prize this Wednesday morning — I'll be there, with a crew from NPR). Provided that the venture meets regulatory approaval, flights will begin in 2007 at about $170-200K US per person, with plans to reduce price by half over time. What a news-packed month this has been for aerospace!

Virgin Galactic coverage: UK Telegraph (Link), and BBC News (Link) (Thanks also to Ari Kolbeinsson, Peter Flint, Daen de Leon, John Hoke, and other readers!)

Update: BoingBoing reader Stiv says, "Interestingly, Richard Branson did a promotional spot for the SciFi Channel's "I am Sci Fi" campaign which featured him piloting a Virgin-branded spacecraft (of course, the design differs from the one he's pictured holding on today's edition of Boing Boing). You can view the clip (in all it's craptacular Real Player glory) online." Link

And Ben Adair, formerly of NPR's show The Savvy Traveler, says: "I saw your post about Branson and thought about a disturbingly accurate Branson parody we did on the NPR show I used to run. Not that we scooped you, but it is pretty hilarious: Link. Scroll down to 'An interview with Richard Branson'."

Reader Kevin T. Keith says, "Regarding your BoingBoing post on Virgin's announcement of space tourist flights, recall that Pan Am famously announced – on a break-in live call in the middle of the Apollo 8 TV coverage! – that it would be starting tourist service to the moon, and offered membership in a "First Moon Flights Club" from 1968 to 1971. (Ronald Reagan held one.) TWA also followed suit. Obviously, nothing ever came of it. A brief review of the period (including an image of a Pan Am moon-flight "certified club member's card") can be found here: Link. I'll believe Virgin's claim when I see it happening (though it's obviously on a better technological footing than Pan Am's)."