Chinese businessmen plan space trip

Updated: 2006-11-02 19:50

BEIJING -- Two Chinese business people will be among the first 100 people to make a three-and-a-half hour space trip at the end of 2008 with the New Mexico-based space tourism company Virgin Galactic, reports Thursday's Beijing Morning Post.

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The trip will cost around 200,000 U.S. dollars and include half an hour in space and five minutes experiencing zero gravity. The company intends to send 520 people into space in about 100 launches during its first year.

The Virgin agent for China only revealed that the two Chinese tourists were one male and one female.

"Our goal is to end the exclusivity attached to manned space travel, which means designing a privately-built vehicle which can fly almost anyone to space safely without the need for special expertise or exhaustive, time consuming training," read a statement from Virgin Galactic.

The Virgin trips require only three days of pre-flight preparation. Previous space tourism in government-built shuttles cost over 20 million U.S. dollars after half a year of training.

Virgin Galactic will launch its test flight in late 2007, and will launch commercial operations a "little over a year later".

Up to now, four people have paid 20 million U.S. dollars each to become space tourists, including an Iranian-born American woman Anousheh Ansari, who returned from an 11-day trip to the International Space Station in late September.

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