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EasyJet to follow Virgin Galactic into space
1 Oct 2004 by RussusEasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou announced yesterday that his company EasyGroup will follow rival firm Virgin Group into space travel, hoping to snowball what he calls a "low cost" battle for the stars.
EasyJet Propulsion Laboratories, as it is grandiosely named, hopes to "revolutionise budget close orbit travel" with the same success as the many other EasyGroup travel enterprises, EasyBus, EasyCar and EasyCruise.
"Low prices and low mortality rates can go together," says Stelios.
At the London press conference the Greek-Cypriot entrepreneur said Virgin, in moving to space travel, were trying to play a game of one-upmanship. "If they think they can shake me off by taking all the customers into space, they can think again. I'll go wherever the greens are, even if that's the cold vacuum of space".
Virgin Group are un-phased by Stelios's announcement, snootily saying that they offer a superior experience for all that can afford it. EasyJPL by contrast have made no effort to hide their plans to cut costs wherever possible.
They have already arranged the purchase of three nuclear powered rocket units from China and will begin stripping out nonessential equipment such as seats, radios and standby safety systems early next year.
And while Virgin passengers will be able to marvel at the beauty of space through five inches of NASA developed Plexiglas, EasyJPL travellers will find the windows removed and replaced with plate steel, to "limit" air leaks.
"Most so-called 'experienced' people say that landing is the hardest part, but not for us," said the shipping empire heir. "We're just going to head right for the sea. The earth is seven tenths water, so what are the chances that we'll miss?"
"Our sister company, EasySeaRescue, will then ferry passengers to the terminal building," he added.
Brochures accompanying the EasyJPL launch indicate that a round trip from take off to landing could be three hours, although depending on flight success this could be much, much less.
Space historian Pat Eason from the University of Essex believes people would be mad to travel with EasyJPL. "Stelios tells us these rockets have been used on manned flights," he said. "What he didn't say was that they were manned by monkeys."
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