Want to go to space?
No, really. Japan recently established its own space tourism agency to make the dream of space flight a reality for everyone. Well, everyone who has 25 million yen to spare.
Club Tourism Space Tours Inc. is the Tokyo extension of Richard Branson’s company, Virgin Galactic (they pretty much invented the space tourism industry). Customers will start their space odyssey in New Mexico, where the company’s Spaceport America launches six passengers at a time into sub-orbit. (Fully orbital flights are a tiny bit dangerous–the International Space Station, for instance, has an average orbital speed of 8 kilometers per second.)
At a height of 15,000 meters, the passenger craft will be detached from its carrying airplane before ascending to as high as 100,000 meters in the next 90 seconds. The passengers will have about four minutes to savour the feeling of zero gravity and the impressive view, then will slowly glide back to the Spaceport while contemplating all the other ways they could have spent that 25 million yen. The whole process takes about two hours. I wonder if they let you bring a camera aboard?
About 600 people worldwide have already signed up for this, including 18 Japanese participants. Virgin Galactic predicts it will have 30,000 customers within its first 10 years, with an expectation of about 900 coming from Japan.
But the real question is, will anything like those recent life-size mechs be an option?