April 21, 2008
Virgin Galactic Plans World’s First Wedding in Space
Britain's billionaire entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson plans to conduct a wedding ceremony 70 miles above the earth's surface. The event will take place next year on the initial Galactic sub-orbital flight, and will make Branson the first man to marry a couple in space.
It won't be the first time Branson is involved in an attempt to break a world record. In 1986, he led a record setting trip across the Atlantic in a powerboat. Then, in 1991, he crossed the Pacific in an air balloon, shattering existing records.
The 58-year-old Branson was ordained last year for the day in an online church, and officiated at the mid-air wedding of Virgin America marketing director Dimitrios Papadognonas and Coco Jones, on board a Virgin flight from San Francisco to Las Vegas. He also helped Google co-founder Larry Page's wedding on his private island, Necker, in the Caribbean.
"We have had two bookings involving marriage, one to get married in space and the other for the couple to have their honeymoon in space. Virgin Galactic adviser George Whitesides and his new wife, Loretta Hidalgo, booked a $200,000-a-ticket honeymoon on Virgin Galactic's maiden flight," a Virgin Galactic spokesman told Britain's The Mail on Sunday,
"It is possible that Richard could obtain a license to conduct the marriage."
The Virgin Galactic space project is progressing at breakneck speed, and customers will participate in the initial test flights this summer.
Branson unveiled a model of SpaceShipTwo, the craft he says will make space tourism a reality, earlier this year. The vehicle will be transported by aircraft to an altitude of 50,000 feet, and then blast into the Earth's outer atmosphere.
To date, 200 people have purchased tickets for Virgin Galactic flights. Princess Beatrice, whose partner Dave Clark works for Virgin Galactic, she plans to be the first Royal in space. In the U.S., actress Victoria Principal, designer Philippe Starck and Professor Stephen Hawking have also paid for trips.
"Customers will have a two-hour flight, go up to 70 miles above the Earth and experience amazing views of the planet, G forces and weightlessness after a three-day training program," the Virgin Galactic spokesman said.
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