The elite club of astronauts is limited to just over 500 people. But if you’ve ever wanted to make the voyage yourself, it might only cost you $10.
The Urgency Network, a nonprofit startup, is behind several goodwill campaigns that use their connections to celebrities like Hugh Jackman, Paul McCartney, Thom Yorke and Richard Branson to offer donors unique experiences.
The model of Urgency Network, founded by Donald Eley and Brandon Deroche, is pretty simple: Donate $10 to a good cause, and you'll be entered into a raffle to win an amazing prize. Each $10 donation gets you another ticket, and after the first donation, donors can also volunteer for a variety of tasks to earn additional tickets.
And now, thanks to the “Ticket to Rise” campaign, which benefits Oxfam, PETA and the Voice Project, that $10 donation could land you a spot on an XCOR flight, one of two new ventures that will launch commercial space flights beginning in 2015.
“It’s one of the most exciting opportunities of our time. We’re hoping to revive public interest in space and science-related topics,” Deroche told Yahoo News. “There are about 45 nonprofits that are a part of the campaign. We see it as a bridge to get people to take action.”
Needless to say, it’s quite a bargain. A standard ticket aboard the maiden XCOR flight costs between $95,000 and $100,000. The winning donor will take part in training exercises and medical screenings before the actual flight takes place and will then take part in one of the first flights, joining the crew 330,000 feet above the Earth’s surface aboard the XCOR Lynx Mark II shuttle.
Deroche said that for each $1 million the Urgency Network raises on the Ticket to Rise campaign, it will purchase an additional seat on an XCOR space voyage.
“Space is going to be in the headlines a lot more once the commercial flights start,” Deroche said. “We wanted to be at the forefront of that conversation.”
After shutting down its own shuttle program just a few years ago, NASA has been supportive of the effort to commercialize private space travel, calling it a “vital component to the future of human space exploration.” NASA has formed partnerships with companies like SpaceX to ship cargo and to transport astronauts aboard craft to destinations that may include the International Space Station.
As of March, more than 200,000 people have reportedly signed up to take part in a one-way trip to Mars in 2024. Participants in that prospective voyage hope to establish a new colony on the Red Planet, but they are agreeing to do so with one major caveat: They will never come back to Earth alive.
So, a $10 historic trip into Earth’s orbit should be an even easier sell. However, Deroche says the response to Ticket to Rise has been “slightly fascinating” — while the project is already garnering a lot of attention and donations, he has also heard a fair amount of skepticism.
“For a lot of people, they still haven’t heard that you can take a private trip to space,” he said with a laugh. “But this is very real.”
Follow Eric Pfeiffer on Twitter (@ericpfeiffer)