Blasting off at the New York Auto Show
5-4-3-2-1. Blast off. The New York Auto show is in full swing this week and setting the show in orbit was Richard Branson. During the 2005 Super Bowl, Volvo introduced it’s new V8-powered Volvo XC90 SUV with an out of this world sweepstakes to win a flight to space on a Virgin Galactic space ship.
The ad, featuring Sir Richard Branson as an astronaut piloting a rocket ship, encouraged people to enter for the trip above the planet earth to experience weightlessness and view the stars. More than 135,000 aspiring astronauts registered for the trip, valued at $200,000.
According to Branson, “I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Volvo. Volvo was my first car because it was safe and reliable. Our space trips have to be safe and reliable to succeed as well. Volvo is now quite a sexy car. Our space trips are going to have both safety and sexy aspects.”
Virgin Galactic — one of the world’s first commercial space tourism operators — plans to debut commercial space flight within the next two to three years. According to Branson, “Benz created the car but it was Henry Ford who is remembered for making it available to the masses. Charles Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic was marvelous but the enduring legacy is the airline industry he inspired. Thanks to Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, and the developments made by Burt Rutan and his project, space travel will now be available to the public aboard Virgin Galactic spaceships.”Sir Richard Branson, founder and chairman, The Virgin Group of Companies and Ann Belec, president and CEO of Volvo Cars of North America announced the winner of a trip to space. Doug Ramsburg, a 41-year-old Northglenn, CO man won the sub-orbital flight to space. The trip will be in two to three years. In the meantime, Ramsburg will receive astronaut training.
The technology for Virgin Galactics spacecraft will be modeled after the world’s first privately funded, reusable space vehicle, SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 won the Ansari X Prize by becoming the first privately funded, manned suborbital space flight. Taking off from a traditional runway, the spacecraft is powered into sub-orbit by a hybrid engine.
Branson was asked, “You’ve been knighted by the Queen, trekkers love you, and you now have your own space tourism business. Could you do all of us a favor and take a couple of Volvo engineers into space with you and fix the Hubble for us?” Branson answered, “That would be lovely. I would love to get the Hubble fixed. It is so magnificent. I would be happy to take some spanners (wrenches) and a couple of Volvo people up and try and get it fixed.”