Japan travel agency to sell space trips

Aug. 19, 2005 at 6:22 AM

TOKYO, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Japanese travel agency JTB Corp. plans to begin a partnership with space experience company Space Adventures Ltd. and market the firm's tours in Japan.

One tour will take participants around the far side of the moon and back to Earth on board the Russian spacecraft Soyuz for the price of about $100 million. Trial flights will be conducted and launches could begin as early as 2008, the Mainichi Shimbun reported Friday.

The Soyuz spacecraft can carry two space tourists. From the windows of the craft they will be able to view Earth and the moon.

Space Adventures officials said skilled astronauts would accompany travelers and there would be no safety concerns.

Other tours include a 10-day stay at the International Space Station and trips that let people experience weightlessness. Some programs will incorporate training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center before liftoff.

In the first year, JTB plans to have one person participate in the International Space Station Program, 10 in a weightlessness experience at an altitude of 60 miles, and 30 in trips on supersonic aircraft. It hopes for sales of $21.8 million.

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