China’s wealthy aren’t looking to travel to exotic locations on Earth these days, but seem to be thinking outside the box and looking to space travel as a viable vacation option: More than 300 Chinese space enthusiasts have booked tickets costing nearly US$100,000 for a five minute trip to outer space. The 305 buyers snapped up tickets for a trip with Dutch firm Space Expedition Corp (SXC) when they went on sale on Taobao, an online retail website, the state-run China Daily reported.
The Taobao page selling the tickets was only available on June 12 and within the first few minutes around 305 buyers purchased tickets for the space expedition. The trips will take place in a two-man craft that remains in space for five to six minutes, giving the tourist a rarely seen view and the experience of weightlessness, the report said. The tickets were sold for 599,999 yuan it said, adding that four entrepreneurs from the southwestern city of Chengdu and two from the commercial hub of Shanghai were among those who signed up.
No date for the trip was given. Despite a flurry of interest in space tourism in recent years, no private firms have yet been able to launch regular trips. Participants — who must weigh no more than 125 kilograms — are required to receive flight simulation and weightlessness training before their trip.
Ticket broker Zhang Yong told the China Daily: “It is exciting that Chinese can enjoy space travel with a click of a mouse. Hopefully it will usher in a new chapter for Chinese to explore outer space.”
China has its own military-run space programme, which in the last decades has sent astronauts into orbit and landed a rover on the moon, but so far has no commercial space firms.