Coppell businessman signs up for space adventure



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Posted on November 24, 2010 at 12:01 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 24 at 7:10 PM

Spaceport America

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COPPELL — Bob Kulick is a real-life "City Slicker."

"My mother says I have a death wish. There's a line from a Jimmy Buffett song that says 'I'd rather die while I'm living that live while I'm dead.' I love that line," he said.

Kulick is part owner of the CiCi's Pizza chain, based in Coppell. But at age 52, he has checked off an enviable "bucket list."

  • Summitted Africa's Mt. Kilimanjaro? Check.
  • Motorcycled the Baja 500? Check.
  • Hiked, biked, and kayaked in Peru? Check.

Kulick's next quest, though, tops them all.

In August, he made a reservation to go to space, becoming Virgin Galactic Astronaut No. 195.

Total cost: $200,000.

"It's a lot of money, but it's the only opportunity I know of to get into space in my lifetime," he said. "So I look at it that way and say, 'It's an experience I can't miss.'"

Two-hundred grand gets Kulick three days of training at the new Spaceport America in New Mexico, which was profiled in a News 8 report on Monday.

After that, the mother ship — which looks like a strange airplane — will fly him and up to five other aspiring astronauts to 50,000 feet, where their SpaceShipTwo disconnects and rockets away on a sub-orbital flight.

Kulick and others are promised a view of the curvature of the Earth and the experience of weightlessness, albeit briefly.

It's only a two-hour adventure; the zero gravity part lasts about five minutes.

"This is the first trip where I asked my daughters... I have two girls... I said, 'Are you OK with it?' Because sometimes they get nervous, and my youngest one was most worried about it," Kulick said. "She thought about it a little bit, asked a few questions and said, 'Can I go?'"

Providing he passes an FAA physical, the Coppell father figures he'll fly in 18 to 24 months, completing an expensive adventure he'll have a hard time topping.