The UK–not the US–is the headquarters of Virgin Galactic, which Richard Branson hopes will create an entirely new tourism market–in space. Are private companies taking over this task because there are secrets NASA doesn’t want us to know? (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show).

In the Guardian, Robin McKie quotes commercial director Stephen Attenborough as saying, "Things are going incredibly well. (On the office walls) are computer graphics images, but next year we hope to replace them with photographs of the real thing: our first commercial flights into outer space."

Branson’s company has spent millions of dollars designing two craft that will be strapped to the body of a mothership. Each one will carry two pilots and six passengers. McKie writes that as the spaceplane is released from the mothership, "its rocket engine will ignite; and passengers will be rammed back in their seats as the craft soars upwards." And "after 90 seconds, the pilot will cut the engine and passengers will coast in weightless silence as their spaceplane glides into space." At that point, "passengers will have six or seven minutes to float round the cabin and indulge in an ecstasy of camera-clicking."

Other firms are competing for this lucrative trade, such as XCOR in Mojave, California and Armadillo Aerospace, in Texas. The Russian company Orbital Technologies plans to construct an orbiting "Hotel in the Heavens."

Soon space tourists will be in those UFOS everyone is spotting (and if we reach other inhabited planets, WE will become "the Visitors")! McKie writes: "Food will be microwaved, there will be no alcohol and the water will be recycled. On the other hand, the views will be out of this world."

If you’re eating (and drinking) TOO MUCH–in space or right here on Earth–you may be TOO FAT to get into your spacesuit! If that’s the case, then YOU need to download Anne Strieber’s famous diet book, What I Learned From the Fat Years. And just in time to get into your swimsuit (or spacesuit) we’ve REDUCED the price from $4.99 to $2.99!

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