Sunday, August 8, 2010;
Would-be space traveler Daniel Hardin of Lighthouse Point, Fla., is preparing for his greatest adventure -- a suborbital rocket ride on a Virgin Galactic spaceship.
As told to Irene Klotz:
How did you find out about this opportunity?
About three years ago, I read stories about Virgin Galactic developing its spacecraft and selling tickets for future flights. Once I was familiar with the conditions and the cost, I didn't struggle with the decision.
What's the attraction?
I grew up with the space program and many times dreamed of what it would be like to be on board the rockets that take off from Cape Canaveral.
Is this out of the box for you?
I love all kinds of air travel. I like going up in balloons. I flew on the Concorde twice. I flew around the world, just so I could fly in the new luxury Airbus A380. This will probably be my greatest adventure.
What do you want from the experience?
I'm doing this purely for the enjoyment and for the connection to my childhood. This is close to what Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom experienced, although it's going to be a good bit nicer. I'm not expecting champagne and sushi while I'm floating around, but it will be very comfortable, I'm sure.
Did you pay the full $200,000 cost upfront?
I've prepaid $175,000.
How can you afford it?
I made my money as the owner of an outdoor-advertising business.
How did you get into that line of work?
An opportunity came up with Omni Outdoor Advertising while I was waiting to start law school. I thought I'd go learn something, and I needed the money. I ended up really enjoying it. I got a much broader education than I would have in law school. We just don't need any more lawyers.
When do you take off?
If flight tests go according to schedule, the first commercial runs could begin in late 2011 or 2012.
The ride will last just a couple of hours and you'll be weightless for just four or five minutes. Is it worth it?
For the perspective of being outside the atmosphere and being able to see the blackness of space -- yes, I think that view will be well worth it.
-- Kiplinger's Personal Finance