Experts: Huge Space Tourism Expansion Just Months Away - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Experts: Huge Space Tourism Expansion Just Months Away

(CNN) -- It's unlikely that you've heard of PJ King, despite the fact that he's about to set himself apart from most humans who've ever walked the planet. In as soon as 18 months, King could be launching into space as a paying commercial space tourist.

King, a 41-year-old Irish businessman, is one of hundreds of travelers who've signed up and trained to be among the first paying passengers aboard Virgin Galactic's trips to suborbital space -- 62 miles above the Earth.

"One of the reasons I'm doing this is precisely because I want these things to be ordinary," King said. "Part of the problem with space travel is that it is special."

King believes the $200,000 he and other passengers pay for a seat on a Virgin Galactic spacecraft will help create a new future when "flights like this are happening every week, when lots of people go, and the cost has been massively reduced due to the economics of scale."

Prices are coming down, even before space tourism has started taking off.

Russia charges private travelers $40 million to ride on its Soyuz spacecraft and spend a few days aboard the international space station. For a much shorter journey, Virgin Galactic wants $200,000 for a flight to suborbital space. But Space Adventures advertises suborbital trips for about half that price: $102,000. King says he knows people who've taken out mortgages to buy their spacecraft tickets.

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