Virgin Galactic may start flying tourists to space in the near future. Lisa Fletcher recently sat down with Pakistani explorer Namira Salim, who will be on that first flight.
Namira Salim: I’ve always said as a child growing up in Pakistan that I would grow up to become an Astronaut. So when the opportunity came, I think it was just about testing my own limits, my own dreams.
Lisa: What is the price of a ticket now?
Salim: Well I paid $200,000, and I believe that if the flights are successful, it’ll probably go up a little bit, but eventually it will come down.
Lisa: Space tourism has a high cost and some would say a high risk. Five years ago, Virgin Galactic Spaceship Two crashed during a test flight, killing its co-pilot. An investigation found that this was a combination of human error and lack of safety procedures.
Lisa: How worried are you about safety?
Salim: That was in 2014, the spaceship on the site crashed. And I got interviewed by 15 top media outlets in the UK at that time, and if I could tell them at that time that I’m not afraid, I will tell you the same thing. Yes it is risky. More than anything, it’s my dream to go to space and I would risk anything to go there.
Lisa: The future of space is a priority in the Trump White House. He created the Space Force and just last month unveiled its official logo.
Critics have expressed concern that a Space Force would diminish cooperation with allies and create military tension.
Lisa: What do you make of it?
Salim: It's kind of misunderstood by the media a little bit. They think it’s a space force that’s probably not peaceful, but it’s actually not. It's just about maintaining US dominance and making sure that everybody in space is working under the regulations of the international treaties.
Lisa: You’ve talked in the past about using space as a unifying force, particularly moving forward. Explain that.
Salim: I’ve engaged nine governments, I’ve engaged five sitting and former heads of state that yes, it’s a great idea to utilize space as a means for peace on earth so that one day, world leaders can go to space and look back on Earth and grow and go beyond those political boundaries and think beyond those borders and think of the world as one world, one humanity, and come back with a more inspired vision to be United on Earth.
No word on when that trip could happen, but Salim has been waiting since 2006.