Sky is no limit for this travel agency
Thursday 18 August 2005, 15:12 Makka Time, 12:12 GMT
The package includes a trip to the International Space Station
With Japanese tourists already travelling all over planet Earth, the nation’s leading travel agency says it will blast off into a new market – space.
JTB Corporation said it has set up an exclusive sales agreement for the Japanese market with US firm Space Adventures to send the country’s most adventurous tourists into orbit.
A JTB spokeswoman said details would be announced later, but the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper said the one-week space junket would cost each traveller 2.2 billion yen, or about $20 million.
The package includes a trip on a Russian Soyuz rocket to visit the International Space Station after more than six months of training at Russia’s Gagarin Centre for cosmonauts, the newspaper said.
For those with a little less cash on hand, an alternate trip lasting between four and six days would take the tourist 10km into space for a taste of zero gravity.
The discount package would cost 11.2 million yen, or $102,000, and could start as soon as 2007, the report said.
Space Adventures made history in 2001 by sending the first non-professional astronaut, US businessman Dennis Tito, into space on a Russian rocket.
The following year, South African Mark Shuttleworth blasted off, also after forking over $20 million to the company.
The firm last week announced an offer to send tourists around the moon, perhaps as soon as 2008, for a cool $100 million.
Space Adventures opened an office in Tokyo in May, saying it had received thousands of inquiries from aspiring space tourists in the world’s second largest economy.