Richard Branson's space company Virgin Galactic will begin shuttling passengers into the cosmos beginning in December 2013, the British entrepreneur announced.
Speaking at the Farnborough International Airshow this week, Branson said he had begun accepting deposits from space tourists hoping for a seat on the inaugural Galactic flight of SpaceShipTwo, according to the company's official website.
So far, 529 future astronauts have put down a deposit for the suborbital flights, "a number greater than the total count of people who have been to space throughout human history," the company said.
Among the would-be astronauts: Ashton Kutcher and entrepreneur Shervin Pishevar.
The $200,000-a-seat flight will last two hours and will shuttle up to six people at a time. Branson and his adult children, Holly and Sam, will be among the first space tourists when the spaceship launches in December 2013.
Branson also announced the development of "LauncherOne," a new air-launched rocket specifically designed to deliver small satellites into orbit. Commercial flights of the vehicle are expected to begin by 2016.
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