MOSCOW, May 24 (RIA Novosti) – Vasily Klyukin, a Russian businessman living in Monaco, paid 1.2 million euros ($1.5 mln) to board a Virgin Galactic spaceship in a seat next to Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio, Sky News television reported on Friday.
Klyukin, 37, offered the highest bid for the seat at the 20th amfAR bash, a gala charity auction to raise funds for AIDS research, held annually on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival.
He will spend three days in training with DiCaprio in New Mexico before the trip sometime next year.
DiCaprio, who is in attendance at this year’s Cannes festival to promote “The Great Gatsby,” appeared at the auction on Thursday in company of other high profile guests, including Nicole Kidman, Kylie Minogue and Paris Hilton.
Sky News quoted actress Sharon Stone, who was also present at the auction, as saying: “You don’t get to go to outer space every day with a handsome movie star.”
Virgin Galactic, a U.S.-based space tourism company, unveiled its SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle in 2009.
The spaceship is expected take the passengers to an altitude of 110 km (68.3 miles) during a two-hour flight with a four-minute period of weightlessness, when passengers will be able to release themselves from their seats and float around the cabin.
Sir Richard Branson, whose Virgin Group co-owns Virgin Galactic with Abu Dhabi’s aabar Investments, said in April after successful tests of the ship’s engines in flight that SpaceShipTwo may carry out its maiden trip as early as by the end of 2013.
A total of 300 people across the world, including at least 11 Russians, have booked tickets for suborbital flights with Virgin Galactic. They reportedly paid $200,000 each for a thrill ride to the edge of space.