One of the Virgin Galactic planes. Photo: DWissman

12+ hour flights may be a thing of the past with the takeoff of space tourism (bad pun intended).

AS EARLY AS 2012, travelers can fly into space from New Mexico with Virgin Galactic, and by 2014 from Curacao with Space Expeditions Curacao (Space XC). This advance in space tourism also promises shorter flight times to and from major airports for the regular traveler, though not until 2030.

“Flying from London to Barcelona would still take an hour or so while London to Tokyo would be about one hour 30 minutes and London to Sydney one hour 45 minutes.” (CNNGo)

Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) and Formula One multimillionaire e-businessman Michiel Mol have come together to create a supersonic plane for Space XC, essentially a spacecraft, that could get you halfway around the world in under two hours.

The KLM ship, the Lynx, is scheduled to be completed next spring and flights are planned for 2014. “Passengers will be required to pass physical tests to fly on the craft just as a flight attendant must for today’s ordinary planes. Passengers must be prepared to travel at speeds of up to 13,750 mph.” (Budget Travel)

Within a minute, the plane will break the sound barrier. Mach 3 will happen after 3 minutes. Maximum altitude is 100km (62 miles). Passengers will experience weightlessness and a view of Earth from space.

Space XC isn’t the only one in the commercial space flight market. Sir Richard Branson recently dedicated the New Mexico launch site for Virgin Galactic with New Mexico governor Susana Martinez and astronaut Buzz Aldrin in attendance. He has a leg-up in that his planes are already built: the WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo.

But while Branson’s planes are built, the cost to fly in them is more than double what Lynx tickets will go for — flights with Virgin Galactic currently cost $200,000; flights with KLM are being advertised at $90,000. Of course, both of those will have to be cut by at least 100-fold before the flights would be viable for “regular” airport-to-airport routes. Right now, space tourism is just for the uber-rich.

Below is the promotional video from Space XC. Using a phrase like “since the dawn of humanity” is always a bit off-putting, and the soundtrack to the preview is pretty intense and over-the-top. But then again, I wouldn’t turn down one of the flights.

SXC Trailer from Space Expedition Curacao on Vimeo.