If celebrity A-listers booked more rides on space tourism flights, the burgeoning industry would get a boost.
Just call him the Biebernaut. An astronomer is making a case for launching pop singer Justin Bieber into suborbital space aboard a private rocketship.
The idea is not to rid the world of the Canadian teenager and his pop stylings -- he would come back down to Earth eventually, after all -- but rather to help jump-start the emerging suborbital spaceflight industry.
Lofting a celebrity of Bieber's stature would generate a lot of interest among the American public, which could help commercial spaceflight pick up some much-needed momentum, said Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute in Mountain View, Calif.
"My suggestion is, be sure to send Justin Bieber on one of these flights early on," Shostak said here Tuesday (Feb. 28) during a presentation at the 2012 Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference. "If there's more interest, there are more customers. If there are more customers, there's more technical development. It's a positive feedback loop, and obviously that's good."