by (@shalapitcher)

Ashton Kutcher To Cheat On Earth As Richard Branson’s 500th Astronaut

We have to admit, those ads featuring a goatee’d boy version of Richard Branson envisioning the future are pretty cute. Not “sign me up to give him $200,000 and put my life in his hands” cute, but maybe that’s just because we’re not rich. And kind of scared of space travel. Ashton Kutcher, on the other hand, is now free from family obligations and eager to expand his frontiers. So why not sign up to be astronaut #500 on Branson’s Virgin Galactic?

“Great news today news from our Astronaut Relations team at Virgin Galactic: our 500th future astronaut customer has just signed up! Even better news is that number 500 is Ashton Kutcher,” Branson wrote in a blog entry on Virgin.com. “I gave Ashton a quick call to congratulate and welcome him. He is as thrilled as we are at the prospect of being among the first to cross the final frontier (and back!) with us and to experience the magic of space for himself.”

That $200,000 will get Ashton a seat on the SpaceShipTwo, which will fly 100km above the earth for a trip lasting six hours, according to The Hollywood Reporter. So, no time for Martian romances just yet, but this is just the beginning.

[Photos: Getty Images, Virgin Galactic]

by (@missmuttoo)

Kate Winslet Rescues Richard Branson’s Mother From Fire!

Geez, do we love this woman or what? Sir Richard Branson‘s amazing Caribbean villa on his private island (worth 60 million pounds) caught fire yesterday, after being struck by lightening. It’s been completely razed to the ground, but what was even more terrifying was that at least 20 people were in the house when it went up in flames. Amongst his guests was Kate Winslet, who carried Branson’s mum out to safety!

The tycoon’s mother, Eve, is 90 years old and according to Branson, “It was she [Winlset] who carried my mother out of the house. She said it was like being on a film set where you’re waiting for the words “cut” but they just don’t come. So it was quite surreal for her to be in a real-life situation.” Of her bravery, he added, “She carried my Mum out of the house. My Mum is 90 and can walk but it was more just to speed the process up than anything else but anyway, she was great. She swept her up into her arms and got them out of the house as fast as possible.” Amazing, right?

Fortunately, everyone got out okay, including Winslet’s two children and Branson’s daughter Holly. The fire started raging around 4 am, and Branson’s son, Sam (who was staying in another villa with his father and mother, Joan), ran into the flames to help everyone get out. Branson explained, “We had a really bad tropical storm with winds up to 90mph. A big lightning storm came around 4am and hit the house. It took hold incredibly quickly, with flames 100ft high. It ripped through the house very quickly. Sam heard explosions in the main house and raised the alarm. He and my nephew Jack rushed to the house and helped get everyone out.” We’re so glad that everyone got out safely and is uninjured.

[Photo: Getty Images]