VIDEO: Overheard — Adventurer Per Wimmer and David Leppan in Conversation


This year is set to see the first space-tourism flight, with Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo expected to launch at the end of the year. With this in mind, David Leppan and future astronaut Per Wimmer discuss the reality of space tourism.’s Overheard series offers viewers the chance to get behind some of the key events and happenings by talking to the personalities involved. Here, our chairman David Leppan talks to adventurer and future astronaut Per Wimmer about how he came to be interested in going into space. The video (right) offers some edited highlights of the conversation.

David Leppan: What is it about space that draws you to it? What is it that fires you up about it?
Per Wimmer:
If we take it deep, deep down inside me, I’m very keen to learn, I’ve always been curious. As a human being I’m very curious about life, what’s going on out there, what’s happening… Irrespective of what you do, it’s all about learning; it’s all about pushing the frontier further out, and that’s what we’re all about as human beings. That excites me, that drives me and ultimately that is also what is going to take me to space.

So you’re intending on going into space with Sir Richard. Do we have any timeline on that yet?
You never get an official timeline out of it, but we’ve conducted the new first test flight with the new rocket, and that will continue throughout this year and next year, and once the full test profile is finished we get the official stamp from the FIA and we’re good to go.

So what does the family think of all of this? Are they ever sat around the kitchen table and going: ‘Oh my God!’
The family has different views on it, they are excited but there are some reservations, particularly when it comes to the potential safety profile… I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t feel safe. I think the safety profile is probably akin to the early days of aviation, i.e. very reasonable and very respectful. But certainly higher than flying a Boeing 747. But it is justified by the mission of going into space, by going to a place that less that 600 people have ever been in the history of mankind. We’re talking about a frontier of a completely new era where now we as human beings — you and I — are getting out there. That’s where we roll as human beings. We’re now changing that; we’re breaking that boundary and that’s what I find really fascinating and exciting.

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