Debbie eyes space odyssey

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Debbie eyes space odyssey

DUBAI — Zero gravity and the starry skies have always been beckoning 28-year-old Debbie Samoody. Yesterday, the UAE resident signed up to join some 250 others worldwide to become a space tourist.

By Zoe Sinclair

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Published: Wed 30 Jul 2008, 1:42 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 6:19 PM

It’s a concept which has been hugely popular in the UAE and recently saw the first commercial charter for a space flight purchased by a Dubai-based firm for $1.08 million, according to Sharon Garrett, head of Space Marketing and PR for Virgin Galactic in Dubai.

Yesterday, the budding astronauts moved one step closer to their dream when Virgin Galactic unveiled, in the Mojave desert, California, the mother ship which would launch a passenger craft more than 100km above the Earth into space. “I have a big smile on my face every time I think about it,” Samoody said. “It’s a big dream. Whenever I watched a movie about space I used to think what it would be like to watch the earth from a different angle.”

Samoody described herself as an adventurous person at heart and has already logged 100 solo flying hours studying for her commercial pilot’s licence.

Samoody has put a deposit of $20,000 towards her flight costing a total of $200,000, with larger deposits ensuring passengers fly earlier.

The fare grants her “voyager” passenger status and she hopes to travel around May 2010 and would complete three days of pre-flight training.

“It’s worthwhile, it’s so unique it doesn’t have a price,” Samoody said. “You live once, you had better make the most of it.”

It’s this adventurous approach to life that had Sharaf Group President Ibrahim Sharaf become the first Emirati to sign up for the flight. He has already visited the North Pole twice and travelled across Siberia in his quests.

“I am very excited about going into space with Virgin Galactic, it would be once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. Today, sub-orbital journeys represent the ultimate travel, if not, life experience,” he said.

Garrett said the UAE had regularly been the top sales performer globally as residents signed up to take part.

The spaceship will be launched 50,000 feet into the sky aboard the carrier unveiled yesterday.

After being released it will climb a further 360,000 feet in 90 seconds at three times the speed of sound.

At its highest point, space tourists would be weightless for several moments before the craft begins its descent and glides towards the Earth landing like a normal aircraft.


_ 80 per cent male, 20 per cent female tourists

_50 to 59 years old: 42.78 per cent of passengers

_ 40 to 49 years old: 39.44 per cent of passengers

_ UAE passengers have been younger than average

_ UAE the only place to sell a corporate charter flight for $1.08mn. The six seats have been sold to a Dubai-based company.

_ Three ticket categories: - Founder (the first 100 passengers): $200,000 upfront; Pioneer: deposit of $100,000 to $175,000 with the remainder before flight; Voyager: deposit of $20,000

_ More than 250 tickets sold globally

_ Commercial flights expected from end of 2009

_ Virgin Galactic, part of Richard Branson's Virgin Group, is developing space tourism

_ Flight lasts two and a half hours

_ Space is defined as 62 miles or 330,000 feet above earth. The flight peak is 360,000 feet.

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