It’s vacation time for most of us, but a select few will be taking their vacations in SPACE. These trips will begin as early as 2 years from now. reports that designer Philippe Starck and actors Victoria Principal and Bryan Singer have booked their flights aboard the new Virgin Airlines Virgin Galactic craft. They will join 200 other space tourists. Tours will begin in 2008, and tickets cost about $200,000 each.

For the trip, a spacecraft will be attached to a separate airplane, in a configuration like the shuttle. After breaking free of earth’s gravity at around 50,000 feet off the ground, the craft, containing the passengers, will detach from the plane, then orbit in space, with a view of the earth, for about 15 minutes. There will be 5 minutes of weightlessness. The total flight will last a little over 2 hours and the craft will take off from the desert near Los Angeles and touch down in New Mexico.

Virgin Galactic is not the only company offering space tourism. Space Adventures, based in Virginia, has already sent 3 people on a Soyuz craft to the ISS at a cost of over $20 million each, which makes the Virgin trip a bargain. Russia initially offered the trips because it desperately needed money for its space program.

Will space tourists encounter ETs? Whitley’s wonderful new novel The Grays will be published on August 22nd. He will not be traveling to bookstores to sign books, but if you subscribe today, you’ll receive a signed bookplate to put in your copy. It tells all the things that you want to know that he just can’t say any other way.

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