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Student hopes Web site will propel him into space

Michael Halls-Moore isn't just content with watching documentaries about space on the Discovery Channel, he wants to reach the stars himself

Anyone who has seen Star Wars, Aliens or Crave's personal favourite, Space Balls, will have thought, 'Space is cool'. But it seems as though one student isn't content with just thinking about it: he wants to be the first student space tourist.

He's called Michael Halls-Moore, and he's set up a Web site called BuyMeToTheStars.com, which features a fictional star chart and is selling fictional 'stellar objects' to raise the necessary funds for his journey. Advertisers can buy stars, nebulae or even galaxies and depending on how large the object is, the price goes up accordingly.

Michael is hoping to raise around £100,000 in order to achieve his dream. He will fly with Virgin Galactic's sub-orbital spaceflight service, which is planning to propel its first astronauts into space by 2009. According to the Virgin Galactic site, it will only take a week of training to prepare for the flight.

Michael is currently studying for a PhD in Aeronautical Engineering at Imperial College London. We spoke to him this morning and he said he was inspired by the Million Dollar Home Page and thought he could use that business model to come up with a way of raising funds.

He finishes his PhD in October 2008, so he'll be able to fly into space a doctor. But he said, "If I raised the money before I finished my PhD, and I could fly, I would put the PhD on hold."  The man is committed, and we like the idea of using the Web to try to fulfil a life-long dream.

Iranian businesswoman Anousheh Ansari recently became the first Iranian astronaut (and first female space tourist), and said on her return that she thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Fingers crossed that Michael will do the same. -AL