Investment banker seeks an out of space experience
Tara Loader Wilkinson

World-weary investors keen to leave their cares behind can now afford to do just that, albeit for a short time, with sub-orbital space flights on offer for a cut-price of $95,000.

Xcor, a Mojave, California-based company, is planning to launch its rocket-powered spaceship Lynx in 2010, to carry a single passenger and a pilot 200,000 feet above the Earth at half the price of competitors.

The $95,000 ticket is the cheapest available, offering a hefty saving on rival Virgin’s Galactic $200,000 voyage.

The Xcor passenger will remain strapped in at all times and will experience a minute of weightlessness. The flight takes about half an hour and takes off and lands on a 3,000m runway in the Mojave desert.

Xcor already has 22 deposit paid passengers, of whom the first will be Danish investment banker Per Wimmer, who recently quit UK stockbroker Collins Stewart to start his own boutique, Wimmer Financial.

He has also booked tickets on two other upcoming space trips, one of which is the Virgin Galactic.

Wimmer aims to be the first Dane in space and his dream is to plant the Danish flag on the moon. “I look at it as something I have to do before I die.”

Of Xcor, he said: “Although it will be shorter and quicker than Virgin’s, I will be in the front seat next to the astronaut.”

An Xcor spokesman says there are various reasons why it is able to charge half the price of Virgin, mainly to do with the economical fuelling of the ship, which is powered by liquid oxygen and kerosene rather than solid fuel.

Virgin’s spacecraft, which carries seven passengers and four astronauts, is launched from a mother ship which penetrates the atmosphere and has to be propelled 62 miles above the Earth’s surface.

But the extra $105,000 to fly with Virgin may be worth paying to float around the cabin for five minutes, an experience Xcor cannot match.

The space-race between the two companies should come to a head next year, when both plan their maiden flights.