Imagine Google's Sergie Brin and Virgin's Richard Branson sitting on a coach in Davos from 11PM to way past midnight shooting the breeze about space travel. Well, it happened, I swear. There was Sergey egging Branson on to be more adventuruous and build orbital space craft so people could stay up much longer than on his planned space tourist buses (sorry, SpaceShipOne and Two are too beautifully designed by Burt Rutan to be called "buses").
Branson said the risk was low for a spaceship that is launched from a plane, which is the current plan, but an orbital spaceship requires a blast off from earth and that makes it much riskier. But maybe down the road. He did say he was going to take his parents and kids up for a ride once Virgin Galactica was up and running.
For the rest of us, it will cost $195,000 to buy a seat for a few minutes of space flight (is it 18 or 45? I forget). You can count your Virgin Airways miles against Virgin Galactic--it takes 1 or 2 million miles, Branson couldn't quite remember. Branson said he figured there were about 20,000 who would pay this price to fly high. If he could get the price down to $50,000, they would be "a few million" who would sign up.
Now what I want to see is Philippe Starck's design for the Virgin Galactica spaceport in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. It boggles the mind!