Virgin CEO Sir Richard Branson announced the news via his blog. He wrote: ‘I gave Ashton a quick call to congratulate and welcome him. He is as thrilled as we are at the prospect of being among the first to cross the final frontier (and back!) with us and to experience the magic of space for himself.’
There is as yet no comment from the “Two and a Half Men” star on his future voyage, but he did retweet Branson’s announcement on his Twitter account.
USA Today reports that other celebrities including Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Katy Perry and Tom Hanks have been signed up for the voyage.
Branson opened the world’s first-ever commercial spaceport in the New Mexico desert last October, having said the previous month that he hoped to launch the first flight within 12 months. Branson stated: “Our spaceships are not only very beautiful but are built and flying in the final stages of our exhaustive test flight program. We are guided by safety and so will ensure that everything is just as safe as it can possibly be before we start commercial services — particularly as I will be on the first commercial flight with my kids.”
A number of private companies are rushing to fill the gap left by NASA, which ended its 30-year shuttle program last year with the completion of the final Atlantis mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
Kutcher is best known for TV shows including “That 70s Show” and “Punk’d,” and last year replaced troubled actor Charlie Sheen in the popular comedy “Two and a Half Men”.
(WITH ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2012.