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Space travel for Chinese now a reality

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Wed Mar 2, 2005 4:02 am
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Shanghai Daily News: Wealthy Chinese can now add a new choice to their growing list of holiday destinations – space.

A US space travel company – Space Adventures – recently signed a cooperation contract with a Hong Kong-based firm in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, marking the official start of recruiting Chinese tourists for space adventures.

Jiang Fang, chief executive officer of the Hong Kong company, a unit of Space Adventures, said this means that “space tour has officially landed in China.”

He said his company will basically provide four kinds of activities to Chinese tourists, including the sub-orbital and orbital flight away from Earth.

Sub-orbital flight refers to a journey in space at a maximum height of 100 kilometers from the ground. Since the spacecraft is at the edge of outer space, tourists will be able to get a bird’s-eye view of Earth without feeling any gravity.

The cost for the space adventure ranges from 100,000 yuan (US$12,048) to US$20 million, depending on what kind of activities are selected and how.

The first Chinese customer, surnamed Jiang from Shenzhen, has already put down a deposit of more than 1 million yuan for a zero-gravity thrill ride, the Beijing Morning Post said, quoting a Space Adventures executive.

“If all goes well, he will fly into space in 2006,” it said, noting that Jiang had signed up for a short sub-orbital flight that would take him to the edge of Earth’s atmosphere.

More than 100 would-be space tourists worldwide have paid the company sizable deposits for rides on spacecraft not even built yet, Reuters reported yesterday.

Plans call for more than 20 Chinese tourists to be able to go to the United States to undergo ground-based space travel training as soon as May.

In addition to the huge expense, would-be travelers have to be above 18 years old and healthy; they should have no severe diseases such as hypertension or a weak heart.

Only after receiving several months of physical training can tourists be sent into outer space. The total period of the space trip is around seven days.

Officials of Space Adventures, which is partnering NASA in expanding space tour programs to global clients, said they would prefer to organize groups instead of individuals to participate in the space adventure programs. Normally, each group may include 10-plus members.

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