Charter flights to space

This year’s edition of the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book includes a gift that it calls “genuinely out of this world”: a charter suborbital flight on SpaceShipTwo. It’s just like it sounds: an SS2 flight for you and five of your closest friends as some point after Virgin Galactic begins passenger service in 2009. And it can be yours for only $1,764,000.00 (the catalog helpfully including the number of cents in the list price for those penny pinchers out there.) That works out to $294,000 per passenger, which is considerably higher than the current list price of around $200,000 per person. However, this charter flight package also includes a post-flight vacation on Necker Islands for each passenger and a guest, including “an exclusive celebration” hosted by Richard Branson himself.

At the Virgin Galactic press conference last week in New York, company president Will Whitehorn said that they would offer “group deals” where people could buy an entire flight, like in the Neiman Marcus promotion (although not necessarily with the Necker Island party afterwards.) Whitehorn even hinted at the specific Neiman Marcus deal, saying, “We’ve got some early experiments going on with that, there’s going to be one —we’re not allowed to talk about that, are we, the one with the retailer in the US?” Whitehorn did say that such charter flights would not happen until Virgin Galactic fills out its planned fleet of five SS2 vehicles.

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