Aero Jets Darta, based at Le Bourget and Nantes, has teamed up with Virgin Galactic's 'space agent' in France to offer its clients the opportunity to travel into space.
Darta customers are already able to take advantage of the long-range capabilities of its Falcon fleet, but commercial director Romain Alati believes they may well also be interested in the experience of earth orbit: "We are signing an agreement with the agent Jean Luc Wibaux in order to be able to promote the Virgin trips," he says. "Soon our web site will have a new section providing information about space flight and we will be able to sell those tickets through Jean Luc."
If the client books through Darta, the price will be the same as if arranged directly with Virgin, with Darta and Wibaux sharing a commission on the booking.
Darta hosted a presentation on November 10th. Among the guests were two ambassadors, a minister, concierges from the best hotels in Paris, businessmen and entrepreneurs. "We also welcomed the first French future astronaut with Virgin Galactic, Yves Pleindoux," says Alati.
"He has already booked his ticket to space (number 344) and he was testifying about his feelings and experiences."
Guests were shown a video about the spaceport inauguration two weeks ago in New Mexico, USA.
Tickets start at $200,000, and a deposit grants privileged access to all aspects of the project as it progresses. From astronaut forums with Sir Richard Branson on his Caribbean island home or his South African game reserve to opportunities to tour Scaled Composites to see the new vehicles under development, all future astronauts have vip invitations to media events to mark major milestones.
Darta's Alati is keen to experience space flight himself: "Yes, of course I would love to go there… but I will have to work a little bit more, or win the lottery!"