Grapevine: Lauda plans to be a space pilot

Former world champion Niki Lauda is planning to train to become a space pilot, after signing up to Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic project

Grapevine: Lauda plans to be a space pilot

Branson is planning to offer space flights in his new business venture, whose logos are featured on the Brawn cars this weekend, with trips costing $200,000.

Speaking at the Bahrain Grand Prix, Branson revealed that Brawn driver Rubens Barrichello has paid up for a flight - with Lauda going one better and wanting to actually take the controls.

"Rubens has bought a ticket for space, and Niki is going to train to become an astronaut to hopefully fly other people into space one day," said Branson.

Lauda, who has owned an airline since the late 1970s, said about his plans: "I have been a professional pilot for many years. I fly Boeing and Airbuses and my only dream was to fly the Space Shuttle.

"I was always looking at that, but that was impossible because basically Americans do that. When I saw this project I was the first knocking on the door."

Barrichello, who was handed his ticket to space by Branson in Bahrain, said: "For me it is such a pleasure to be here and involved in Virgin Galactic because since I was a kid, it's a very, very clear feeling that I have always wanted to go to space.

"I became a racing driver, which involves getting a fast car, but I want to see up there how fast it goes. When I saw the project coming I asked if I could be a part of it, and Richard has given me access to it as there are a lot of people who wanted to be in there.

"So I am proud to be there. For me it is going to be such an experience. I am very encouraged and I have no more words - it is really kind to be a part of it."

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