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Formula 1 champ Lewis Hamilton is planning to stump a cool £625,000 for five seats on a Virgin Galactic flight, according to the Evening Standard.

Hamilton will be joined on the space jaunt by girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger, dad Anthony, stepmum Linda and half brother Nicholas. A source said: “He is on the way to becoming the first billionaire sportsman, so what better way to spend his fortune? Lewis thinks it would be the perfect way to say thank you to Nicole and his family for their support throughout his triumphant year.”

The first commercial flight of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo is slated for 2010. Richard Branson's son Sam is apparently on the VIP manifest for the inaugural launch, but confessed: “I'm excited but bricking it at the same time. I doubt my dad would let me go unless it was completely safe.”

Branson junior's faith in his father's Virgin Galactic technology is touching, but it's not shared by William Shatner. Captain Kirk in 2006 turned down a free seat on the first trip, explaining: "I'm interested in man's march into the unknown but to vomit in space is not my idea of a good time. Neither is a fiery crash with the vomit hovering over me. I do want to go up but I need guarantees I'll definitely come back."

Fellow thesp Sigourney Weaver displayed rather more cojones in 2004 when she asked to be among the first Virgin Galactic passengers. A Virgin spokesperson said: "We’d be delighted to take Sigourney back to visit the Aliens." ®

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