Over 300 people in China have already booked themselves a trip to the cosmos since the Dutch firm Space Expedition Crop (SXC) began selling tickets on Taobao for a modest 10,000 USD a pop.
The Netherlands-based space tourism firm signed an agreement with a Chinese travel agency back in December, granting tourists the opportunity to tour the galactic gateway in a five-minute trip that the CEO of SXC believes will be a “common tourism choice” in coming years.
SCMP gives more detail on the voyage:
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, [a China Daily report] said.
The tickets were sold for 599,999 yuan (HK$756,152) it said, adding that four entrepreneurs from the southwestern city of Chengdu and two from the commercial hub Shanghai were among those who signed up.
The Taobao page selling the tickets was only available on June 12th, a spokesman for the website told reporters. A screenshot showed that transactions had been made.
According to previous reports, there are three astronaut programs offered: Pioneer Astronaut, costing 599,999 yuan (96,000 USD), Founder Astronaut, which sets buyers back 1.39 million yuan (221,760 USD) and Future Astronaut, totaling a cool 629,999 yuan (100,800 USD).
The Pioneer programs are expected to become live in 2015, and provide the option of flying 61km high on a Lynx Mark I, provided the participants (who must weigh no more than 125 kilograms) undergo flight simulation and weightlessness training.