Newlywed British actress Kate Winslet is the latest celebrity to sign up for a trip into space aboard Abu Dhabi-backed Virgin Galactic, after owner Richard Branson, who is the uncle of her third husband, gave the couple the tickets as a wedding present.
Oscar winner Winslet married third husband Ned RocknRoll and the couple will celebrate their marriage with a trip into space aboard Virgin Galactic, the space tourism firm in which Abu Dhabi state-backed investment firm Aabar Investments acquired a 32 percent stake in three years ago.
According to the Daily Mail, RocknRoll works for Virgin Galactic as the company’s Head of Marketing Promotion and Astronaut Experience.
In July it was reported around 529 passengers had signed up for the space junkets, with comedian Russell Brand, actor Ashton Kutcher, Qatar-backed British property developers the Candy brothers and Stephen Hawking among those on the list.
“[Kate] wants to go into space. I’m not sure she wants to go on a one-way trip to Mars, but she wants to go into space,” Branson was quoted as saying by The Sun newspaper.
Earlier this year, Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said the company had seen “fantastic” interest from customers looking to book seats on its spacecraft and is looking to increase its revenue to around $500m per annum within the next few years.
“A few weeks ago we announced our 500 customer deposit, at $200,000 a ticket it signifies a milestone of over $100 million in future revenue. That business is just one piece of the overall commercial space travel market, [which is] worth billions of dollars overall,” Whitesides said in an interview.
“We think the target market that we will be looking at soon will be the order of magnitude of about $500 million a year,” he estimated.
Whitesides said a third of its customers were based in the US, but spanned nearly 50 countries. Despite the global downturn, he said interest in space travel was still strong.