- The Washington Times - Monday, October 11, 2004

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Thrill seekers are plunking down six figures to ride rockets that haven’t even been built yet, and a new airline called Virgin Galactic promises to be up and soaring in the next three years. Still, the budding space tourism industry faces a myriad of safety concerns that must be resolved before any paying passenger takes off.

The rules that will govern the industry in the United States remain under discussion between federal regulators and rocket developers, and legislation is still before Congress.

Sky-high enthusiasm for space tourism has been fueled by the historic suborbital flights of SpaceShipOne.

Federal Aviation Administration chief Marion C. Blakey this week talked of partnership with the new industry and said it was important for the United States to be the world leader.

But safety is the “first concern” she said, “making sure that as this grows and develops that we’re doing everything we can to protect the folks on the ground, to make sure that the people who go into space understand the risks.”

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