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COMMERCIAL SPACE TRIP HAS MANY POSSIBLE FLIERS

"Star Trek" actor William Shatner and former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Dave Navarro are among thousands who want to fly on Virgin's proposed commercial space flights, company chief Richard Branson said Friday.

Branson said more than 7,000 people had registered their willingness to pay the $210,000 fare for the service, which promises to send passengers nearly 70 miles above the Earth.

Branson told Britain's Press Association news agency there had been "tremendous take-up" of the idea since he announced it last month.

Branson, 54, said he had committed $110 million toward spaceships and ground infrastructure for the new service, Virgin Galactic. He also plans to spend up to $26 million to license the technology of SpaceShipOne, the rocket-plane that made two successful suborbital space flights earlier this month to capture the $10 million Ansari X Prize.

Virgin hopes to start offering the flights -- lasting about 3 1/2 hours including six minutes of weightlessness -- by 2008.

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