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Ashton Kutcher to ride Virgin Galactic into space, reports say

March 20, 2012|By Deborah Netburn
  • The Virgin Galactic spaceship that would take Ashton Kutcher into space
The Virgin Galactic spaceship that would take Ashton Kutcher into space (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times )

Ashton Kutcher, actor and Twitterer extraordinaire, is heading to space.

According to a blog post by British billionaire Richard Branson, Kutcher is the 500th person to sign up for a Virgin Galactic flight that will take up to six passengers at a time on a sightseeing trip to suborbital space.

The trip costs a cool $200,000, but can you really put a price on seeing the curvature of the Earth and enjoying a few moments of weightlessness?

It is still unclear when Kutcher's flight will happen. The company is planning to test fly a spacecraft beyond the Earth's atmosphere this year, and hopes to be ready to fly commercial flights starting in 2013 or 2014, Reuters reported.

If all goes according to plan, Kutcher's flight will leave from the Spaceport America runway in New Mexico where an aircraft carrier will bring the rocket 9.4 miles above the Earth. Then the rocket will separate from the aircraft carrier and blast off to a height of up to 68 miles.

For comparison sake, the typical altitude for a transatlantic flight on a Boeing commercial airplane is 6.6 miles.

The going might be a bit rough at times.

W.J. Hennigan of The Times writes, "When the rocket motor engages, high gravitational forces will pin the pilot to the back of his seat as he steers the craft -- and up to six passengers -- to the edge of space, or about 60 miles above the Earth's surface."

Sounds kind of uncomfortable, but if we had the cash, we'd still sign up to be passenger 501.

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