While specializing in amazing journeys such as trips to the Australian outback, African safaris or fly-fishing in the remotest of places, the most adventurous vacation offered by Betsy Donley of Camelback Odyssey Travel will be out of this world – literally! Donley is Arizona’s only Accredited Space Agent. She has been specially selected and extensively trained over the last four years by Virgin Galactic, the world’s only commercial space line, to handle bookings for suborbital space flights. That’s right – with Betsy’s help anyone can make the trip into space.
“Being a part of the maiden voyages on Virgin Galactic would be the ultimate adventure,” said Donley. “Being one of the first to experience this commercial passenger venture into the unknown, seeing the earth’s surface, the darkness of space and realizing the fragility of the planet will be the thrill of a lifetime!”
Virgin Galactic’s revolutionary VSS Eve is a six-passenger space vehicle that will take travelers on a suborbital flight to outer space. She will be ferried to an altitude of 52,000 feet by a unique carrier plane, WhiteKnightTwo where, after being released for a short free-fall, she will light a rocket for a 90 second burn, launching her passengers at over twice the speed of sound to an altitude around 70 miles above the earth’s surface for several minutes of weightlessness and an amazing view of Earth before re-entering the atmosphere for a glide landing at Spaceport America in New Mexico.
Sound unbelievable? In 2004, the prototype system for Virgin Galactic won the $10 million Ansari X prize by being successfully piloted into space and returning safely twice within two weeks. Flight-testing of the scaled up commercial system is now well underway. “It’s a safe race, not a space race!”, chimes Carolyn Wincer, Head of Astronaut Sales with Virgin Galactic. She continues by telling us, “Commercial operations will commence as soon as we feel comfortable it is as safe as possible for tourists to fly.”
So far, about 370 “early adopters” have reserved their place in history by depositing anywhere from a $20,000 minimum deposit to the full $200,000 ticket price. Betsy Donley adds, “There are only 150 slots left now for people who want to fly in the first year of operation. As awareness of this venture grows, the faster these early seats are selling!”
Says Wincer, “A lot of people don’t realize how involved they can be by booking early. All of our customers are kept apprised of the project’s progress as we go along. We have hosted numerous private access events along the way and of course have celebrated every step of the way in Virgin style as we reach successive milestones.” For example, Betsy Donley joined her fellow Accredited Space Agents and 800 other VIP guests and international media at the unveiling of the spaceship in December, 2009. “It brought tears to my eyes and chills down my spine when I first laid eyes on her!”
In early October, Betsy and her fellow space colleagues will head out to Spaceport America in southern New Mexico for a first look at the new Virgin Galactic terminal, which is nearing completion.
To contact Betsy Donley about booking your next travel adventure, call 602-266-4000 or www.camelbacktravel.com/travelspecialists/betsy.