Fancy a trip to space?
For the past 50 years space travel has been restricted to a few elite astronauts who have trained for years. But all that is about to change as we come closer to the reality of a new industry: space tourism.
By the end of this year, those able to afford the R1.55-million price tag could take a trip into space.
Though several companies have begun space-tourism projects, Virgin Galactic, part of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin brand, has become a front-runner in the market. The company has accepted more than R520-million in deposits from more than 500 people, including celebrities such as US actor Ashton Kutcher and Superman director Bryan Singer.
There are 140 "accredited space agents" worldwide and the newest, Vanessa Rothery, is the first and only agent in South Africa.
So far, two South Africans have paid deposits.
"I am delighted that we are now making it easier for South Africans to book their seat on Virgin Galactic and join other new astronauts on an incredible journey into space," said Branson.
Before they can embark on the journey, passengers will have to undergo a three-day training session in New Mexico, in the US. The flight to and from the US is not included in the ticket price, but training and accommodation are.
After astronaut training, which includes G-force [high acceleration] acclimatisation in a centrifuge, passengers are ready.
The sub-orbital space flight will take them more than 100km above the Earth's surface, at which point they are allowed to unbuckle their seat belts and experience about four minutes of weightlessness. The round-trip lasts a little over two hours.
The Virgin spacecraft can hold eight people: two pilots and six passengers. It is lifted into the air mounted on a host aircraft and then released.
Virgin is not the only option for space tourism, however.
Durban's Orbital Horizons offers a similar trip for R760000. Owner Brad Inggs sells tickets for a seat in space offered by US company XCOR Aerospace. Only two people - the passenger and the pilot - would fly in the craft. There have been a couple hundred deposits made on seats, though none in South Africa.
Quite a bit of testing remains to be done before either Virgin or Orbital will be able to schedule an inaugural space-tourist flight.