London to Tokyo in 90 minutes, via space
A Formula One tycoon has teamed up with Dutch airline KLM to pioneer a spacecraft that will fly passengers to any city in the world within two hours.
Michiel Mol, 42, a Dutch multimillionaire e-businessman, co-owner of the Force India F1 team and co-founder of the project, Space Expedition Curacao (SXC), says he has already sold 35 tickets -- at AU$97,000 (US$94,700) each -- for rides in early versions of the craft.
The Australian reported that the company would provide sub-orbital flights for space tourists from the Caribbean island of Curaçao.
The space tourism flights are scheduled to fly as early as 2014, while regular commercial flights using similar technology are not expected until at least 2030, according to the Daily Mail.
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Mol told The Australian, "Being able to travel from London to Sydney in an hour and 45 minutes, that is the future. It is also the reason why KLM joined our firm [SXC] as a partner.
"Flying from London to Barcelona would still take an hour or so while London to Tokyo would be about one hour 30 minutes and London to Sydney one hour 45 minutes."
"When we get to the point that traveling through space is two or three times [the cost of] a business-class long-distance flight then I think there will be millions of people who would prefer to be in Sydney in a little more than one-and-a-half hours instead of 24 hours," explained Mol.
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His first spaceship, the Lynx, from the Californian firm XCOR Aerospace, will be unveiled next spring and will, he claims, feature breakthrough technology with a reusable engine.
Guests of SXC will not be mere passengers on the spaceship, but will act as co-pilot sitting beside the pilot-astronaut.
Until now, Sir Richard Branson -- who wants Virgin Galactic to become the first private "space tourism operator" --has been leading the space race. More than 370 would-be passengers have signed up already, paying a hefty US$20,000 deposit against the final US$200,000 ticket price, with first flights expected in 2012.
The first SXC flights will fly out of the Caribbean island of Curaçao, because the local weather conditions guarantee perfect conditions for every mission, according to their website.
According to a press release, a number of celebrities have already signed up for the maiden voyage up to space, including Victoria's Secret model Doutzen Kroes, San Francisco Giants batting coach and Curaçao native Hensley Meulens, and celebrity DJ Armin van Buuren.