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The announcement that the government has devised plans for a commercial UK spaceport in an attempt to create a space industry in the UK seems to herald another giant leap forward for ordinary folk who want to explore the final frontier. With space tourism on the horizon, here are some of the ways in which you can experience the galaxy for yourself.
1. Virgin Galactic
Travelling with Richard Branson aboard the planned first commercial aircraft in space is a snip at $250,ooo (£150,000). Deposits are refundable in case you decide that you don’t want the privilege of paying thousands of pounds to become a guinea pig after all. The VSS Enterprise seats six passengers, plus a pilot and co-pilot, and is expected to begin running sub-orbital space flights later this year.
In picking this option, you miss out on the actual experience of space itself as your death is required in order to make the trip. For $995 (£582) Celestial Memorial Spaceflights will carry your ashes on a space flight that then returns to Earth. For $12,000 (£7,000) it will launch your ashes into deep space. If you choose to fly higher in death than you ever did in life you’ll be in good company. Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, had a portion of his ashes launched into space in 2002.
3. ZERO-G: The Weightless Experience
This American company operates flights from US airports that allow passengers to experience martian gravity, lunar gravity and weightlessness. The pilot climbs to 34,000 feet before tipping the plane over the top of curve, following a parabolic arc that creates microgravity, letting passengers float around for up to 30 seconds. For those who feel Mr Branson’s asking price is a bit steep, the chance to experience the coolest part of space without actually going there will cost you $4,950 plus tax (around £2,890).
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4. Rely on the magic of the screen
For the less adventurous, more financially-conscious reader, a short spell in front of the TV may do the trick. Those who like their space adventures combining moral dilemmas and a shoestring budget will get a thrill out of Doctor Who or Star Trek, whereas fans of straightforward plot and a good ratio of explosions to dialogue may prefer Star Wars. For less than a tenner you can experience the terror of space with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in Gravity.
5. Space Diving
You may remember this particular sport came to public attention in 2012 with Felix Baumgartner’s successful attempt to set the world record for skydiving. He jumped from a helium balloon in the stratosphere, falling approximately 24 miles to Earth. Free, with sponsorship for the required pressure suit, transport, training etc.
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The five most noteworthy property sales of 2014
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Last Friday the Times reported how one of London’s finest and largest houses, a few minutes’ walk from Buckingham Palace, had come up for sale. The property at the palace end of Carlton House Terrace, built to a master design by John Nash, overlooks The Mall and St James’s Park and has a guide price of £75 million. It is going to be a trophy asset for whoever buys it, but it isn’t the only property sale that has set tongues wagging. Here are Money Central’s five most noteworthy property sales of 2014.
1. The Brody House
Last week, tech billionaire Sean Parker parted with $55 million (£32 million) for a Los Angeles house called the Brody House. The seller, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, made more than $15 million (£8.7 million) in profit after buying the property for $39.89 million (£23.3 million) just a few months ago.
Mr Parker, who co-founded Napster and was the first president of Facebook, was reportedly blown away by Mrs DeGeneres’ interior design. He was so desperate to acquire the house, which sits in the exclusive Holmby Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, that he closed the deal in just eight days. Along with the A. Quincy Jones-designed modern manse, which covers more than 13,000 square feet, Mr Parker also secured 2.25 acres of picturesque, flower-laden land. If I tell you that the house also comes with nine bedrooms, a swimming pool and a tennis court, you’ll start to understand how magnificent and massive this fashionable mansion is.
And if Mr Parker ever gets bored, he can always see what’s happening next door – at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion.
2. The Black Lion
This 310-year-old central London pub was sold for £27 million in June and may be worth the investment, having made its owners £700,000 last year. The Westminster tavern, situated on Bayswater Road, was sold to developers who are planning a £500 million redevelopment of the property. The company, 123 Bayswater Road Ltd., have however agreed with the pub group Spirit that the pub will continue to wet locals’ whistles for a while to come.
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The Black Lion is now one of the most expensive pubs in history, though it can’t quite touch the City Pub, a Canary Wharf drinking house which went for £32 million in 2008.
3. One Hyde Park
The £140 million sale of One Hyde Park’s functionally named Penthouse D made it London’s joint-most expensive property, though redevelopment work will soon push it over the top.Nick and Christian Candy’s CPC Group, which organised the transaction, said the property would take on a value between £160 million and 175 million once it was finished. The record-breaking sale, which makes the penthouse worth at least £10,000 per square foot, was initiated by an eastern European buyer.
4. The most expensive garage in Britain
A south London garage went for more than half a million pounds in April, making it the most expensive garage in Britain. The Camberwell property was auctioned off by Andrew Scott Robertson for £550,000, placing its worth more than £70,000 above the London average. At 568 square feet, this empty shell comes complete with cracked walls and absolutely no planning permission to turn it into a home. The former coach house, which was once used by the mayor of Southwark, went to an anonymous buyer who paid 275 per cent of its estimated value.
5. Bieber and Kardashian make a deal
Pop star Justin Bieber made $7.2 million (£4.2 million) from the sale of his Los Angeles home to fellow celebrity and reality TV star Khloé Kardashian. After run-ins with the police and neighbours, the Canadian singer sought a fresh start, and made more than $1 million of profit from the Calabasas-based house, which he bought just two years ago. The gated community is now home two Kardashian sisters, after Kourtney bought retired American Football player Keyshawn Johnson’s house a few months ago. British interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard has worked his magic decorating Khloé’s new home, which takes up 9,214 square feet. That’s plenty of space for its six bedrooms, wine cellar, outdoor pool, spa, sauna, separate guest house and private movie theatre.
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