KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 1 — Malaysians are among the first batch of customers to sign up for a US$200,000 (RM630,000) private space tour on Virgin Galactic, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Virgin Galactic commercial director Stephen Attenborough told the paper sales for the tour were under way in Asia in Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and India, and included customers from Malaysia and Singapore.
Some 450 customers worldwide have signed up for the tour, which includes a suborbital hop that features a few minutes in space.
Only seven people have paid their way into space so far, spending US$20 million to US$35 million to book rides on Russian rockets into low earth orbit.
“Our initial ambition was to have signed 500 people up by the time we start commercial operations. So we’ll be significantly ahead of that — it could be 700 to 800,” Attenborough told the Wall Street Journal.
He described the typical aspiring space traveller as self-made and reasonably rich, “but not necessarily super-wealthy”.
“About 50 per cent of them come from the US, and we have 47 countries represented now.
“There are a lot of people who booked tickets with us who will be the first astronauts from their country,” he said, adding that about 70 per cent of their customers were male.
Virgin Galactic, however, has yet to tap the potentially lucrative Chinese market owing to its uncertain regulatory position in the mainland.
“We’ve been pretty busy in other markets but I hope eventually to be able to sell to the whole of this region,” Attenborough said.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if there was a large demand from China, but we’re not quite there yet.”
He added that Virgin Galactic expects to launch its first commercial flight in 18 months to two years from now.
Gulp!!! Hebakk...hebak...siapakah gerangan Malaysian itu... Bawalah daku bersama menjelajah angkasa..ececececehh..