Jan. 13, 2012 at 5:35 PM ET
Record executives are reportedly talking about sending Jay-Z and Beyonce into space to make a music video — and although Virgin Galactic's executives aren't yet in on the discussions, they say the pop-music power couple are welcome to take a ride. They can even bring their celebrity daughter along.
The idea came to light on Thursday in The Sun, a British tabloid that specializes in the exploits of the rich and famous.
"The label people have been talking about making a music vldeo in space," The Sun's Harry Haydon quoted a source as saying. "Beyonce and Jay-Z seemed the obvious option. Everything is being done to make it happen."
Executives are reportedly inquiring behind the scenes about making the video on Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket plane. Scenes for the video would be shot during the few minutes of weightlessness that come at the peak of the suborbital space ride, more than 62 miles (100 kilometers) above Earth's surface.
SpaceShipTwo isn't due to start commercial service until the end of this year at the earliest, which is probably a good thing, because I'm guessing that Jay-Z and Beyonce have their hands full right now with Blue Ivy Carter, their newborn daughter. Blue Ivy has already hit the Billboard music charts, and eventually she might hit the heights of outer space as well.
"We're having no talks with Beyonce and/or Jay-Z (or indeed Blue Ivy!) but would be more than happy to take mum and dad or the whole family to space at some point!" Stephen Attenborough, Virgin Galactic's commercial director, told me in an email today.
Celebrities lining up
Beyonce is already known to have a soft spot for space: She recorded a special audio message for the crew of Atlantis during last summer's final space mission. "You inspire us all of us to dare to live our dreams, to know that we're smart enough and strong enough to achieve them," she told the astronauts.
If the project comes together, Jay-Z and Beyonce could make the first professional music video performed in outer space. But they wouldn't be the only celebrities in space. The glitterati rumored to be on the list of prospective Virgin Galactic passengers include Katy Perry and Russell Brand (who recently broke up), Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Paris Hilton, Tom Hanks and Victoria Principal.
Then there's Stephen Hawking, the superstar quadriplegic physicist who just turned 70. Hawking took a zero-gravity airplane flight five years ago and is still up for a Virgin Galactic spaceflight. Attenborough said that Virgin Galactic's founder, British billionaire Richard Branson, "was delighted to attend his 70th birthday celebrations last weekend and reiterated Virgin Galactic's commitment to do everything possible make it happen."
No freebies for the stars
SpaceShipTwo is designed to carry just six passengers and two pilots — which means celebrities can bring a small entourage along with them. Hawking would reportedly ride for free, but other celebs shouldn't expect freebies: The cost of a space travel package is $200,000 per seat, and Branson said last year that he wouldn't be offering any special deals.
"I'm in the airline business, and a lot of people ask for upgrades, and we're not going to get the same thing happening with our space program," he told The Canadian Press.
So when might the tourist treks to space begin? Attenborough didn't mention an exact date in his email, but he said "2012 is going to be the most exciting year yet."
"We are poised on the edge of the final stretch of flight testing, with the commencement of SpaceShipTwo powered tests expected in the not-too-distant near future and ramping up, if all goes well, to space flight within the 12-month period," he said. "Clearly we will also require the FAA licences before we embark on passenger flights, but are continuing to see a major gear-up in the Spaceport America-based operation in preparation for that."
Virgin Galactic has more than 450 would-be spacefliers signed up, and Attenborough said "we are continuing to see near-record growth in the numbers of future astronauts."
"I expect in the early part of this year we will have more paid-up customers than have been to space to date — which will be an exciting milestone," he said.
More about Beyonce and Jay-Z:
More about Virgin Galactic:
Alan Boyle is msnbc.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ presence. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.