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Leaving on a rocket plane

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Posted: 1 pm ET

Talk about frequent-flier perks: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Space Experience Curacao say they will offer future suborbital flights on the Lynx rocket plane being developed by California-based XCOR Aerospace. The 30-minute flight will soar approximately 300,000 feet up, allowing wealthy passengers to experience weightlessness and see the curvature of the earth. The cost of the adventure is $95,000.

Artist rendering of the Lynx provided by XCOR Aerospace.

The Caribbean island of Curacao has announced plans to make its airport into a spaceport for the space experience by 2014. The plane's launch has been delayed in the past couple of years, and is now scheduled to debut later this year in the Mojave desert, where XCOR is located.

According to the XCOR website, a $20,000 deposit entitles potential passengers to a medical screening, orientation and G-force training. From a steep takeoff powered by four rocket engines, the plane will shut off engines when it reaches Mach 2, and continue to soar unpowered into the atmosphere. Passengers will experience approximately four minutes of weightlessness and up to four times normal gravity upon re-entry.

A Boeing 737 will seem like a tricycle ride after that.

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