...As Space Barrier Crumbles

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The X Prize was just the beginning. Thanks to Mojave Aerospace Ventures, spaceships are now part of the GA world. The BBC News reported on Monday that Virgin Galactic's fleet of five spaceships, to be built by Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites, will have luxury accommodations for up to eight passengers and will be capable of about one flight per day. Plans call for a cabin height of 6 feet and width of 7 feet, the BBC said, with fully reclining seats to help even elderly passengers cope with the six G's expected during phases of the ... trip. Passengers will be free to float in the cabin, and use the time as they please, Rutan told the BBC -- whether that's to look at the window, conduct a science experiment, play with a cat, or, if a couple wanted to buy out the whole ship and use that time for personal ... recreation ... that's fine with Rutan, too ... provided they're quick about it. The ships will reach about 87 miles (about 25 miles higher than SpaceShipOne) and allow for an extra 90 seconds of weightlessness. "This experience is going to have very few restrictions on what you can do because these payloads are doing it for fun and every person has a different idea of what fun is," Rutan told the BBC. "You have bought the ride, you paid for it." Virgin Galactic expects the seats to cost about $190,000 apiece. The company says it will open for business early in 2005, though it may not start operating spaceflights until 2007.