Space tourists already getting more choices

Say the year is 2008 and you have a hankering for space travel. If you have 200 grand you can fly into suborbital space via Virgin Galactic. Then again, if you want to go all out you could throw down $100 million and take a trip around the moon:

One day after NASA brought the shuttle Discovery back from low Earth orbit, a private company plans to announce a more audacious venture, a tourist trip around the Moon. Space Adventures, a company based in Arlington, Va., has already sent two tourists into orbit. Today, it is to unveil an agreement with Russian space officials to send two passengers on a voyage lasting 10 to 21 days, depending partly on its itinerary and whether it includes the International Space Station. A roundtrip ticket will cost $100 million. The space-faring tourists will travel with a Russian pilot. They will steer clear of the greater technical challenge of landing on the Moon, instead circling it and returning to Earth. Eric Anderson, the chief executive of Space Adventures, said he believed the trip could be accomplished as early as 2008. Mr. Anderson said he had already received expressions of interest from a few potential clients.

Read more here. For more on Space Adventures, see this interview. Also interesting that The Spaceship Company, Richard Branson and Burt Rutanâ??Ã?ôs new venture, is apparently intent on expanding competition even more:

the company will build spaceships — not only for Virgin Galactic and its initial order of five spaceships and two carrier craft — but for other customers as well

Article here. Rutan expects to see the day when suborbital space travel is comparable in price to a ritzy ocean cruise. For more on private space flight, go here and here.