Space Tours to Northern Lights

Virgin Galactic to offer flights into heart of aurora borealis
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2007 11:41 AM CST
This Dec. 19, 2006, photo released by NASA and taken by a crew member on board Space Shuttle Discovery shows the Aurora Borealis, also known as "northern lights". The long exposure on the digital still...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Virgin Galactic plans to launch sightseeing tours into the heart of the northern lights—a first for humans—within three years. If all goes to plan, passengers willing to pay $200,000 a ticket will board spacecraft from north of the Arctic Circle to head for the edge of space, directly through the shimmering aurora borealis, the Guardian reports.

Sir Richard Branson's company will begin space flights from New Mexico around the same time, but the ones from the Esrange space center in Sweden will have the bonus of passing through the spectacular northern lights. Between the two sites, Virgin expects to fly 5,000 passengers a year into space. Branson and and his family plan to be on the first flight. (Read more space tourism stories.)