One small price for man: City banker pays £50,000 to become world's first 'affordable' space tourist

A banker is set to become the world’s first “affordable” space tourist.

Per Wimmer will tomorrow be announced as the first customer of private space tourism company Xcor.

In 2010, he hopes to fly to an altitude of 200,000ft in the Lynx, a two-seat jet-powered spaceplane built by the LA-based firm.

The flight, lasting 30 minutes and costing around £50,000, will allow passengers to experience weightlessness for several minutes.

Unlike rival schemes such as Virgin Galactic, it will take off and land under its own power – four jet engines – reaching Mach 2 before gliding back to earth.

Shuttle: the two-seat Xcor Lynx craft will travel to space under its own power before gliding home

Mr Wimmer, who runs investment bank Wimmer Financial and lives in Islington, said he hoped the flight would allow him to see the earth from the edge of space. “It’s the view of the earth I’m really looking forward to, I think it will be an unforgettable experience to see the dark of space against the curve of the earth,” he said.

Mr Wimmer, 40, is working with London charities and schools to raise awareness of space. He is so keen to leave Earth’s atmosphere that he has bought another two tickets to space, one with Virgin Galactic and one with rival firm Space Adventures. “It will be a real race to see which of them goes up first – but if it is Xcor, I will become the first affordable space tourist,” he said.

Although several tourists have paid to visit the Russian Soyuz space capsule, it cost them millions of pounds.

The new breed of space sightseers will pay much less. “Our mission is to radically lower the cost of spaceflight,” said Xcor chief executive Jeff Greason. “We have designed this aircraft to operate like a commercial aircraft.” The firm is expected to undercut rivals with its flights. Virgin Galactic charges £100,000 and is also set to launch in 2010

Stargazer: Banker Per Wimmer, 40, has bought three separate tickets to space