March 24, 2005 10:57 AM PST

From Colorado to outer space

NEW YORK--Space tourism company Virgin Galactic has the name of at least one of its future passengers.

The company on Thursday announced that it will send Doug Ramsburg of Northglen, Colo., on a trip into space, courtesy of a contest sponsored by Volvo.

Sir Richard Branson, chairman of the Virgin Group of companies, came dressed as the Virgin Galactic astronaut-in-chief to make the announcement along with Ann Belec, CEO of Volvo Cars of North America, at the New York International Auto Show here.

"Let's just say I've got an interest in cutting-edge concepts in transportation," Branson said of his outfit.

Because the trip won't happen for a while--Virgin Galactic, which was unveiled last October, plans to start making trips in two to three years--Volvo gave Ramsburg, 41, an XC90 V8 SUV to tide him over.

Ramsburg was one of about 135,000 entrants in the contest, run via Volvo's BoldlyGo.com Web site, which it used to help launch the XC90 V8 SUV. The company also ran an ad during this year's Super Bowl.

Others eager to jet into space will have to pay, however. A ticket will cost about $200,000.

As the space tourism service "becomes more and more popular, we'll seek to lower that price," Branson said.

Still, Ramsburg isn't likely to make the trip alone. Virgin Galactic has said that thousands of people have offered to plunk down money for the trip.

Back in October, the space flight company said that 3,500 people had already offered to make deposits for tickets on a space flight.

Virgin Galactic was created by Virgin Group, which entered into a technology licensing agreement with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's Mojave Aerospace Ventures. It plans to become the first business venture to carry commercial passengers on space flights.

 

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