A new Tokyo-based travel agency is set to start marketing seats on space tours via a commercial space flight program based in the United States. Club Tourism Space Tours Inc. was officially launched on Monday as a subsidiary of Club Tourism International Inc. for the express purpose of marketing Virgin Galactic space tours in Japan priced at US$250,000 (around 25 million yen).
The concept and driving force behind Virgin Galactic is adventurer and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson. When this idea was floated in 2006, it was no better than a pipe dream, but because of the strong-willed development of the plan, suborbital spaceflights are now set to start late this year. The flight accommodates six passengers, along with two pilots, and will take off from New Mexico. Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo will first be taken to the proper altitude by the WhiteKnightTwo carrier craft. Then at 15,000 meters, SpaceShipTwo will detached and go on an amazing 90-second fuel burn to climb to an altitude around 100,000 meters above the Earth. At this point, passengers will experience zero gravity for around four minutes and have an amazing view of the planet. SpaceShipTwo will then glide back down to Spaceport America to complete the roughly two-hour tour.
The Virgin Galactic flights are not cheap, but will there be any takers at US$250,000? Apparently, there are – almost 700 persons have already signed up for the flights, and 18 of those are Japanese citizens. CTI is envisioning 900 tourists from Japan to take part in the space program in over a decade. But if you – like most of us in the real world – have no ability to pony up the 25 million yen required for a two-hour space flight, maybe a more affordable alternative will be these “star fighter” bus tours that give tourists a chance to explore Tokyo the nerdy way. The tour comes complete gaming LED screens (yey!), “hyper windows” (which really are just normal windows), and “missions” to complete as you go along. For US$80, you really get what you pay for. When you got this, who needs space travel anyways? Psshh.
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