Schumacher latest to sign up for Virgin Galactic trip

EXCLUSIVE: F1 legend pre-books seat on world's first commercial space flight.
By Alex Delmar-Morgan
Thu 06 Aug 2009 11:59 AM

Seven times Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher is the latest high-profile celebrity to have pre-booked a space flight with Virgin Galactic, Arabian Business can reveal.

The emergence of Schumacher as the latest big name sign-up to UK entrepreneur Richard Branson’s commercial spaceline company comes just a week after the 40-year-old F1 racer announced a stunning comeback to the sport, following Felipe Massa’s crash in the Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying.

Will Whitehorn, president of the world’s first space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, said in an interview with Arabian Business that the 300 customers who had already booked their $200,000 flight into space was made up of a ‘long list’ of actors, politicians, famous sportsmen and scientists.

Whitehorn said former racing driver Niki Lauda, French designer Philippe Starck, X-Men film director Bryan Singer, physicist Stephen Hawking and US actress Victoria Principal were among those who had also signed up to the venture.

Last month Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments bought a 32 percent stake in Virgin Galactic worth $280m, valuing the company at $900m.

“There is a long list of 300 hundred people, who come from all walks of life. Many are scientific entrepreneurs, some of them are from the financial services industry,” he said.

“We’ve got a couple of politicians but they don’t want their names released at the moment,” he added.

When asked whether former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair was among those who had booked, Whitehorn replied: “I’m not sure whether it’s something he wants to do or not. I haven’t asked him.”

Virgin Galactic aims to operate the first commercial flights to space by 2011. It has collected $40m in deposits from pre-paid customers.

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