Saudis are lining up in droves for a ticket to outerspace, topping the list of passengers who have booked a ticket on board the first commercial spaceship.
With tickets costing $200,000 (750,000 Riyals), Virgin Galactic, the first commercial spaceline, reported that Saudis top the list of space travelers from the Middle East. These space tourists will be among the first 1000 humans to have left the planet.
Saudis are among the most interested in space tourism and top the list of soon-to-be astronaut tourists from the Middle East, followed by Kuwait and U.A.E. according to Virgin Galactic’s marketing manager, Sharon Garrett.
Saudi travel agencies have also expressed their desire to create Saudi-based divisions devoted to space travel, she said.
More than 65,000 passengers from 125 countries have already registered and paid the $20,000 deposit, according to the company. The $200,000 price tag gets space tourists a two-and-a-half hour flight at least 100 km above earth (68 miles) and includes three days of pre-flight training. Each flight will carry 6 passengers, who will be able to get out of their seats and experience weightlessness, and two pilots.
Virgin Galactic, which will launch its service in January, wants to give people – not just professional astronauts -- the chance to explore outer space. The company's outlook is that in the future space travel with be as common as normal air flights.
(Arabic translation by Sonia Farid)