2009 marks forty years since Neil Armstrong's historic moon stroll, when the astronaut took mankind’s inaugural steps on lunar surface. While space odysseys are still out of reach for most, a journey to the outer reaches of earth’s atmosphere is now possible for adventurous souls with a hefty pocketful of cash to splash. For just $200,000 a pop, you can be one of the first lucky tourists to jet to the edge of the cosmos and experience the curvature of the earth on Virgin Galactic’s new suborbital vessel, SpaceShipTwo, unveiled today in the Mojave Desert.
Based on the design of SpaceShipOne (the first privately-built, manned aircraft to complete successful cosmic flights in 2004), SpaceShipTwo is the brainchild of Virgin Galactic, Sir Richard Branson’s space tourism project, and Virtuoso, a self-proclaimed “leader in luxury and experiential travel.” 300 people from 42 countries have already shelled out a total of $40 million to guarantee a spot on an early flight, while those 6 lucky enough to snag a seat on the maiden voyage will be chosen via lottery. Following the unveiling, SpaceShipTwo will immediately embark on an extensive test flight regime before propelling passengers 65 miles into the thermosphere in late 2010/early 2011. The flights will last roughly two and a half hours, hit speeds of up to 2,500 mph, and include five minutes of weightlessness. So sign up now (and start saving) for a ticket to see the world from sub-orbital space!