Chinese businessman gets a ticket on Virgin's SpaceShipTwo

Iran Materials 29 November 2006 17:35 (UTC +04:00)

(earthtimes) - A Chinese businessman is all set to become the first space tourist from his country after paying $200,000 (103,000 pounds) for the privilege of boarding Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo. Around 100 passengers will be selected for the space trips scheduled to begin in 2008, according to Rupert Hoogewerf, who is an adviser to the firm, reports Trend.

The Chinese man is from the eastern province of Zhejiang and has requested anonymity. Hoogewerf said that there were 20 male applicants and three female applicants from China. A female space tourist was yet to be selected, he added.

Virgin Galactic's space trip will last 2.5 hours. The firm rivals Space Adventures and is owned by Sir Richard Branson. "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," the company had said earlier when it launched the initiative.

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo is capable of carrying six passengers and two pilots each week. Virgin plans to use the California and New Mexico spaceports for the launch, while Space Adventures is looking to build a couple at Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

Space tourism is a fledgling arena and only four people have so far been brave enough to pay $20 million for the privilege of watching the Earth from outer space.