Contrary to the beliefs of all you haters, doubters, and people who don't care to be wiped out in a Challenger-like disaster, it appears that Virgin narcissist-in- chief Richard Branson is really serious about sending the general public into outer space.
Last week, the company announced that its "Virgin Galactic" division has signed a real agreement with the state of New Mexico to build a real $225 million "spaceport" as a base for their real rockets. They also revealed that 38,000 real people have paid a real cash deposit for a seat on a flight, including 100 who've already plunked down the full $200,000.
Far be it from us to doubt the aerospace engineering expertise of a company that specializes in big record stores and teeny-bopper mobile phones. But did any of these 38,000 customers happen to catch the recent test flights of the SpaceShipOne craft that will ostensibly rocket them out of this world? Its crazy corkscrewing descent prompted one test pilot to say afterwards - and we're paraphrasing here - "For the love of god, I'll never so much as set foot on an escalator again as long as I live. I peed my pants something awful."
Of course, New Mexico officials are enthusiastic about the project, spaceports being one of the only economic development options for the state that don't involve crystal meth or scorpion appreciation tours. And Branson himself is confident enough to lend his own iris as a model for the company's creepy Eclipse-inside-an-eyeball logo.
So forge ahead, you pioneers of the heavens. Let no amount of timorous cries from the earth-based community dissuade you from placing your lives in the hands of this failed reality show star. To those ready to fly, we salute you, but if you don't make it back, can we have your CDs?
Hamilton Nolan writes PR Play of the Week. He is a New-York based reporter at PRWeek.