Rich Chinese buys ticket to space
A Chinese businessman has paid $200,000 to become his country’s first space tourist, hoping for lift-off some time by the end of 2008.
The man is among a first batch of 100 passengers who will board Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwoe for the suborbital trip.
About 20 men and three women from China — out of some 65,000 people globally — had applied for tickets, and a female Chinese space traveller had still to be selected.
Hoogewerf, who publishes an annual list of China’s wealthiest people, said the man was under 40 and that he had asked for his identity to be kept secret.
Virgin Galactic, owned by billionaire Richard Branson, competes with Space Adventures travel agency to take private individuals to space. Its space trip will last 2.5 hours.
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo rocket-powered vehicle will carry six passengers and two pilots for a 2.5-hour weekly flight, the company says.
It plans to launch its flights from spaceports in California and New Mexico, while Space Adventures has announced plans to build spaceports in Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.
So far, four private tourists have visited space, paying around $20 million each.
A US businessman in 2001 became the world’s first paying space tourist, travelling to the orbiting space station aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket. He spent a week in orbit. reuters