First Irishman in space set to launch in 2012
Will pay $200,000 to become space tourist
PJ King, a 41-year-old business man, is set to become the first Irish man in space. In as little as 18 months, King will be launched into space in what could be the world's first space tourist exploration.
The Irishman is one of hundreds of aspiring space travelers that signed up to become the first paying passengers abroad the Virgin Galactic trip to outer space. King told CNN that his dream of space travel started when he was just a child; the star lit skies of the Irish countryside meant the Milky Way lay out before him like a virtual welcome mat.
"One of the reasons I'm doing this is precisely because I want these things to be ordinary," King told CNN. "Part of the problem with space travel is that it is special. Flights like this are happening every week, when lots of people go, and the cost has been massively reduced due to the economics of scale."
The Irish man was part of a group of indigenous business men including Irish entrepreneur Bill Cullen and Irish Physics Live boss Tom Higgins, who originally signed up for the space mission. King made his fortune in the 1990's when he built and sold his Clockworks International software company.
A ticket for the voyage costs $200,000, but the businessman insists that this is not an ostentatious mission.
"I believe in this," King said. "This is not a just a bunch of rich people going into space for fun."
"I remember thinking how strange it was that after man had conquered the moon, we appeared to have given up afterwards. I think a lot of people imagined there would have been more progress in terms of space flight, " he added.
Each traveler must undergo a three-day pre-flight launch preparation program before their mission. Many others who have signed up, including King, have undergone centrifuge training so they can become accustomed to in-flight stresses which are stronger than gravity.
The future space explorer explained the effects: "At six Gs, talking is extremely difficult, It feels like you've got a weight on your chest and your head is stuck to the back of the seat," he said.
Virgin Galactic which is owned by Sir Richard Branson, is planning on beginning regular space flights, which will fly 62 miles above the earth, for private travelers by 2012. With some training already completed, Pj King is confident he will have a seat aboard one of the first missions to outer space.
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