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Guy Gardner, Vice President of Space Adventures

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, March 18, 2002. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews. 

TERRY KEENAN, GUEST HOST: If you are having some trouble deciding where to spend your next vacation, how about a trip to space? For $20 million, a company called Space Adventures can put you onboard on spaceship that will launch you to the international space station.

Now if this is way beyond your budget, the space company, which is based in Arlington, Virginia, is also taking reservations for a suborbital space flights that will carry you outside the earth's atmosphere to the very border of outer space. Now these flights cost $98,000 per person and you can earn you frequent flier miles with U.S. Airways, believe it or not.

Here to tell us more about these space tourism flights is Guy Gardner, former astronaut and vice president of Space Flight Operations. And welcome, good to have you with us, Mr. Gardner.

GUY GARDNER, VICE PRESIDENT, SPACE ADVENTURES: Thank you, Terry.

KEENAN: It sounds way out there. Let's start with these $98,000 flights, because that might be within somebody's budget as opposed to the $20 million. When will these suborbital flights be available?

GARDNER: Well, we have got a number of companies that are trying to build the vehicles. The one was announced last week was a Russian company that has one that probably starts test flights in about two and a half years. And we hope to be flying tourists in about three and a half to four years.

KEENAN: Are these destination-driven flights or do you just go around the earth in circles?

GARDNER: Well, to start out with, we won't even go around the earth in circles. These are what we call suborbital, as you mentioned, which means they will just go up and come back down again, just like the first American flights, Al Sheppard and Gus Grissom. They will take about 20 minutes. You'll get about three minutes of weightlessness.

KEENAN: For your $98,000. What will you see up there?

GARDNER: Well, you will get up to 100 kilometers, which is about 62 miles. And if you get up that high, you'll be able to look out and see the earth from space. You will see the curvature of the earth. You'll be up above the atmosphere that we can sense. The sky will be black. You will look down on the earth's horizon. And I think the view is going to be actually a lot more spectacular in terms of sensations than even the weightlessness.

KEENAN: But speaking of that weightlessness, are you going to be able to see much if you are upside down and have your barf bag out?

GARDNER: Well, we hope to make it so that the training will make it so you won't be worrying about the barf bag. And in that short of time, that won't be a problem at all. As a matter of fact, you are in a small compartment, so you won't be able to have as much fun in terms of the weightlessness as we do on our zero-gravity flights that we fly over in Moscow.

KEENAN: Who is your target customer here?

GARDNER: Right now, the target customers are those who have a little more disposable income than perhaps you or certainly than I have. But the idea is that is where we start, with those who can afford that kind of money for that kind of an experience. And through time, we will bring the prices down. My ultimate goal is that my mom can afford one of these flights in the future.

KEENAN: I hope you that she can go up there with you. How are you going to profit off of this and who is your biggest competition?

GARDNER: Well, right now, what we are is more of the travel agency side of the business, although we do invest in these companies that are developing it. So we have the client list. And our profit is made by taking our percentage of the cost of the ticket, to arrange and set up and do a lot of the marketing side of this. So we're almost like the travel agency, although we do get more involved in investment and helping these companies come along with their products.

KEENAN: And, just quickly, when will these flights be available? Is there a wait list? How can potential passengers contact you?

GARDNER: Well, right now, we have 100 people signed up for the suborbital flights. That's our waiting list. And we are taking reservations. It we will be, you know, as I said, three or four years. But we are on the Internet at spaceadventures.com or 1-888-85-SPACE.

KEENAN: All right. Sounds like a great adventure. Thanks for joining us.

GARDNER: You're welcome, Terry.

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