"Science, perhaps even more than tourism
(free reg. may be required to read), could turn out to be big business for Virgin Galactic and other companies that are aiming to provide short rides above the 62-mile altitude that marks the official entry into outer space, eventually on a daily basis."
Virgin is looking at ticket prices in the $200,000 range, which is peanuts compared to the millions some scientific space expeditions can cost, even for brief experiments. And if you don't even have *that* much in your research budget, John Carmack has been touting $105,000 space flights
for nearly a year now, and Xcor Aerospace has been taking $95,000 space ride reservations since 2008
. It looks like the biggest customer for short space flights for scientific experiments so far is the Southwest Research Institute
, but many others are lining up, especially since, the article quotes one scientist as saying, “It’s almost impossible to get research on the space station at the moment." Of course, none of these commercial space ventures has actually carried any paying passengers into space yet, but it's only a matter of time before some of them do.