Man signs up as China’s first space tourist

BEIJING (AFP) Oct 21, 2005
A Chinese man has paid 100,000 dollars to become the country’s first space tourist, and is set blast off on a sub-orbital mission in 2007, state media reported Friday.
Jiang Fang’s trip is being organised by US-based Space Adventures, which was behind the voyages of the world’s first three space tourists, Dennis Tito in 2001, Mark Shuttleworth in 2002 and Greg Olsen this year.

They paid 20 million dollars each but Jiang’s voyage is far cheaper as he will only be in the air for 90 minutes on a sub-orbital mission where the craft flies at an altitude of 100 kilometres (62 miles), the China Daily reported.

“A new hero is created when a spaceflight is launched,” Space Adventures president Eric Anderson was quoted as saying. “I want to create more private space-travel heroes in China.”

Jiang is president of Hong Kong Space Travel Ltd, the Chinese agent for Anderson’s firm, which was set up by former US astronauts to book commercial space travel. He said he had always wanted to experience zero-gravity.

“I want to experience weightlessness and explore the wonders of space,” he said.

At a press conference, he was reluctant to reveal details about himself, only that he hailed from Shenzhen in southern China, was in his 30s and was involved in electronics manufacturing.

“My personal details are not relevant to the space flight,” he said.

It was not clear where the flight would depart from.

Sending tourists into space is becoming the next frontier in tourism.

In August, Japanese company JTB Corp. said it had set up an agreement for the Japanese market with Anderson’s firm and would start sales this month, hoping to gross 2.4 billion yen (22 million dollars) in the first year.

The most recent space tourist, 60-year-old Olsen, returned to earth last week after 10 days aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket and at the International Space Station.

Interest in space travel has boomed in China since it launched its first manned mission in 2003. Its second manned flight, Shenzhou VI, carried two astronauts around the earth for five days before landing safely on Monday.

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