Buy a ticket into the Northern Lights

December 28, 2007

Where’s that spare 100,000 pounds when I need it?
clipped from

It looks like a cut-price version of the set of a Bond movie. Blocky, 60s-style white consoles face a large wall-mounted video screen, each covered in dials and buttons with words like “pump on”, “fire” and “liftoff” written on them. Only the slightly shabby appearance of the place and the metre-high inflatable rocket in the corner indicate that this is not the home of cat-stroking villains but a place of academic study.

In three years, if all goes to plan, Esrange will act as mission control for the European outpost of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.

Passengers paying $200,000 (about 100,000) a ticket for the two-hour flight will be able to fly into the aurora borealis – the northern lights – something that no human has done before
The company hopes to begin commercial space flights from a purpose-built spaceport in New Mexico in 2010, but flights from Kiruna should follow soon afterwards
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