Space tourism gains popularity

The man cramped in the tight cockpit of SpaceShipOne, wearing a coffee-stained Nike shirt under his flight suit and a St. Christopher's medal close to his chest, did the following at 48,000 feet.

He silently prayed, crossed himself, and prepared to fire the rocket motor that would take him to about 112 kilometres above the Earth.

"When it comes to flight tests, I'm not embarrassed to get down on my knees and say a few prayers," the world's newest astronaut told the Star in an exclusive interview yesterday.

Brian Binnie knew the sizzling flight he was about to embark on would be "binary" - either a stunning $10-million-winning success or a failure that he might never live down, or even survive. And so, as he'd done before some of the harrowing carrier landings he made during combat, he placed his faith in something beyond his instrument panel, reports Toronto Star.

According to Taipei Times, the achievement enabled the spacecraft's team to claim the US$10 million Ansari X prize and prove its viability as the prototype for the first commercial space liner.

"This is a milestone for humanity," said John Spencer, president of the &to=' target=_blank>Space Tourism Society in Los Angeles. He told that the flight represented "the kickoff of the space tourist industry."

But don't get your flight suit out of the closet just yet, unless you have a large appetite for risk and adventure and an even larger bank account.

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