More than 300 wealthy Chinese have signed up for space travel – at a starting price of around Rs. 60 lakh (600,000 Yuan) for just six minutes in space – after a European company on Thursday launched “private expeditions” starting in 2015.
Within just one day of the programme's launch, 305 Chinese had purchased trips from the Dutch Space Expedition Corporation, according to the official China Daily newspaper.
The trips, aimed at wealthy Chinese, were made available through the popular eBay-like Chinese website Taobao. Media reports said four entrepreneurs from Chengdu, in western Sichuan province, and two businessmen from Shanghai were among those who had purchased trips.
The company said trips on a Lynx Mark I aircraft, at a starting price of 599,999 Yuan (around Rs. 60 lakh) would begin in the winter of 2015 through a “pioneer astronaut” programme that would take passengers 61 km into space.
From 2016, trips for Rs. 63 lakh on a Lynx Mark II travelling 103 km high would begin, the company said, launching from the Mojave desert in the United States.
The only conditions travellers need to meet – besides fronting the not inconsiderable travel expense – are that they should be less 2 metres tall and weigh below 125 kg, as well as pass basic health examinations and receive one week of training on flight simulators and in zero gravity.