After Seven Years of Waiting, a Would-Be Space Tourist on the Virgin Galactic Would Like a Refund
The Final Frontier
Venture capitalist Alan Walton paid $200,000 to become one of the first-ever space tourists, hoping to fly into space on the Virgin Galactic spaceship. This was seven years ago. And as of this writing, he has not gone into space. So, he’d like his money back, please. Honestly? We would have to agree. If one buys a ticket on a spaceship, one should be able to fly into space. This has not happened, and it’s not going to be for a while, and at 75, Mr. Walton isn’t getting any younger.
Walton first bought his ticket back in 2004, when the SpaceShipOne broke altitude records and flew into suborbital space, the first private plane to accomplish such a feat, and in a time frame of two weeks. At the time, Virgin Galactic’s own Sir Richard Branson promised that he’d have SpaceShipTwo ready to fly into space by 2007. Walton then rushed to become one of the first 100 people to purchase his ticket, hoping to fly into space come 2007.
But clearly, this hasn’t happened. Walton — who has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, traveled to the North Pole, and skydived over Mount Everest — turned 75 recently and decided he just wasn’t as “spry” as he used to be, and requested that he get his $200,000 back.
“This was a decision I wish I didn’t have to make,” he said recently. But “it was time.”
The AP reports that Walton has received his refund. He is currently “coping with the reality” that he won’t be able to travel into space, but instead, the British venture capitalist (who lives in Connecticut) is looking into a different realm of science non-fiction — he is “investing in genome-mapping pioneer J. Craig Venter’s quest to create artificial life.” So, good luck with that, Mr. Walton!
Right now there are about 450 ticket holders who are holding out hope for their own trip into orbit. (About 10 have dropped out for medical reasons.) For now, however, Virgin Galactic remains grounded, no official launch date in sight, still conducting tests. But if you really, really want to go into space, make friends with the top 1% of the country — some of the (super) rich interested have been shelling out a few million dollars to board the International Space Station via the Russian astronauts. You know, if you were wondering about an alternate route into space.
(AP via SPACE.com)