Despite Bitcoin’s growing popularity, the venues where you can actually spend the virtual currency still remain relatively few in number.
But thanks to Virgin founder Richard Branson, you can at least use Bitcoin to soar into space on Virgin Galactic, which will begin taking passengers on sub-orbital flights in 2014.
“One future astronaut, a female flight attendant from Hawaii, has already purchased her Virgin Galactic ticket using bitcoins,” Branson wrote in a blog posting on Virgin’s Website, “and we expect many more to follow in her footsteps. All of our future astronauts are pioneers in their own right, and this is one more way to be forward-thinking.”
Branson is an investor in Bitcoin, which has seen its per-unit value skyrocket from $10 to $900 over the past two years (today, its value stands at $766, but that could rapidly change). “The lack of transparency from Bitcoin’s founders has attracted some criticism, but its open source nature means anyone can audit the code,” he added in his posting. “It is a brilliantly conceived idea to allow users to power the peer-to-peer payment network themselves, providing control and freedom for consumers.”
Between virtual currencies and online payment platforms, the current financial system—centered on banking institutions, with transactions conducted in government-backed currencies—could undergo some radical shifts over the next few years, something Branson is anticipating with glee. “The days of carrying cash and coins could soon be over,” he wrote. “Sometime in the future, innovative payment models such as Square, Clinkle and Bitcoin will become serious challengers to traditional banks.”
A flight aboard Virgin Galactic costs $250,000, or roughly 320 Bitcoin at today’s price. However, Bitcoin is also a volatile currency, diving and spiking in response to a variety of factors—while it’s certainly possible that its value could zoom above $1,000 in the near future, there’s always the possibility it could crash down to a few hundred dollars, or even lower. Which means, if you want to spend two hours in sub-orbit, you might want to book soon.