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Justin Bieber in space? Make it so, Virgin Galactic!
Virgin's billionaire founder, Richard Branson, reported in a Twitter tweet that the teenage pop star and his agent, Scooter Braun, have signed up to suborbital spaceflights: "Great to hear @justinbieber & @scooterbraun are latest @virgingalactic future astronauts," Branson wrote. "Congrats, see you up there!"
"Let's shoot a music video in SPACE!!" Bieber replied via Twitter.
The singer's space aspirations aren't exactly out of the blue: In February, he told his 40 million Twitter followers, "I wanna do a concert in space." To which NASA replied, "Maybe we can help you with that."
At the age of 19, Bieber's net worth is estimated at $110 million, thanks to the success of songs such as "Baby" and the adulation of millions of fans (a.k.a. Beliebers). The fare for a ride on Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket plane recently went up from $200,000 to $250,000, but even the higher price tag shouldn't be much of a problem for the Canadian-born heartthrob.
SpaceShipTwo went through its first supersonic, rocket-powered flight test in California in April, and it's expected to begin commercial operations at Spaceport America in New Mexico as early as next year.
The ride would send Bieber and Braun beyond 62 miles (100 kilometers) in altitude, which marks the internationally accepted boundary of outer space. At that height, passengers would feel a few minutes of weightlessness, get a view of the curving Earth beneath a black sky, and then experience a roller-coaster ride back down to a runway landing.
The suborbital spaceflight industry just might get as much out of Bieber's trip as he does. A year ago, the SETI Institute's Seth Shostak said giving Bieber a trip into space could provide the kind of publicity that money can't buy. ""My suggestion is, be sure to send Justin Bieber on one of these flights early on," Shostak said at the 2012 Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference. "If there's more interest, there are more customers. If there are more customers, there's more technical development. It's a positive feedback loop, and obviously that's good."
Bieber isn't the first celebrity to sign up: Virgin Galactic's A-list for space also includes Ashton Kutcher, Sarah Brightman, Victoria Principal, and reportedly Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie as well. In all, more than 600 people have made their bookings.
Do you want to see the Bieb go "All Around the World" and into space? Some un-Beliebers might not mind if he just stayed up there. Where do you stand? Feel free to weigh in with your comments below.
More about commercial spaceflight:
- Richard Branson can't wait for his own space shot
- Gallery: 10 players in the new space race
- Cosmic Log archive on commercial spaceflight
Alan Boyle is NBCNews.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the NBC News Science Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ presence. To keep up with NBCNews.com's stories about science and space, sign up for the Tech & Science newsletter, delivered to your email in-box every weekday. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.