AMSTELVEEN, The Netherland – A Formula One tycoon is linking up with KLM, the Dutch airline, to develop spacecraft that could bring every city on Earth within two hours’ travel time.
A British passenger was the first to buy a $ 93,000 ticket for a ride on an early version of the craft, providing suborbital flights for space tourists.
Michiel Mol, 42, a Dutchman who co-owns the Force India Formula One team and made his fortune in computer software, said over the weekend, “Being able to travel from London to Sydney in an hour and 45 minutes, that is the future. It is also the reason why KLM joined our firm [Space Expedition Curacao, or SXC] as a partner.”
Peter Hartman, chief executive of the airline, said, “KLM supports this innovative project. The SXC program’s aim is to make space flights — the future of travel — accessible in a responsible and sustainable way by developing and promoting new technologies.”
Sir Richard Branson intends to become the first private space tourism operator, booking seats at $ 200,000 each for suborbital flights on his Virgin Galactic vehicles, which he hopes to begin launching as soon as 2012.