Sunday 01 February 2009, San José, Costa Rica

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Ticos Not Up To Space Flight

Travelling to space and looking at the Earth from far above has only been dream for most. However, 285 people from 36 countries will soon be making that dream a reality, like multimillionaire, Dennis Tito, did in 2001, when be became the first "civilian" to leave the Earth on the Russian Soyuz.

Although Costa Rica has one of the few travel agencies that passage on the Space Ship Two can be purchased, not one Tico has yet come forward to put down the us$20.000 deposit required.

The travel agency Terranova says it has not yet had a bite on the offer.

For an initial ticket price of $200,000, Virgin Galactic passengers will buy a 2.5-hour flight aboard SpaceShipTwo and launch from an altitude of about 60,000 feet (18,288 meters), while buckled safely in seats that recline flat after reaching suborbital space.

The air-launched SpaceShipTwo is designed to seat eight people - six passengers and two pilots - and be hauled into launch position by WhiteKnightTwo, a massive carrier craft currently under construction by Scaled Composites, Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn said.

While the spacesuit designs are not yet final, they will likely be equipped with personal data and image recorders to add to SpaceShipTwo's in-cabin cameras, Whitehorn said.

The SpaceShipTwo craft will take off from the Mojave Spaceport in California during testing. Spaceport America (formerly Southwest Regional Spaceport), a us$200 million spaceport in New Mexico partly funded by the state government, will become the permanent launch site when commercial launches begin. A Spaceport Sweden is in planning.

Seven vehicles have been ordered by Virgin Galactic. As of October 2007, only the first two have been named, the VSS (Virgin Space Ship) Enterprise, and the VSS Voyager. Both are in development.

A proposed name for a third space ship, Columbia, is planned, and other proposed space ship names such as Challenger, Atlantis and Discovery are also in consideration[citation needed]; which are former or current names of Space Shuttles.

Following 50–100 test flights, the first paying customers are expected to fly aboard the craft in late 2009 or 2010.
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