Virgin Galactic posts help wanted for astronauts

With NASA mothballing shuttles, and the Soviets auctioning seats on Soyuz capsules for millions of rubles, how are spunky American pilots supposed to prove they have the right stuff? By answering a want ad for astronauts from Richard Branson.

The crazy billionaire's space tourism business, Virgin Galactic, has posted openings for "pilot-astronauts" to begin work in June. Virgin Galactic is still doing test flights of its Burt Rutan-designed ships, but expects to launch the first "customer-astronauts" in two years from its spaceport in New Mexico, for the everyday low price of $200,000.

Virgin Galactic wants pilot-astronauts to have a minimum of 3,000 hours of flight experience in a variety of aircraft and help set the rules for future recruits. The other big hurdle? "Prior spaceflight experience is an advantage."

H/T to ajpal87!