Friday, December 2, 2016

Tourists in Space

ANA, H.I.S. plan outer-space tours in 2023 for 14 million yen

The Asahi Shimbun  by RUI HOSOMI/ Staff Writer  December 2, 2016

An artist's rendition of a spacecraft being developed by PD Aerospace Ltd. for tours planned by ANA Holdings Inc. and H.I.S. Co. (Provided by H.I.S. Co.)

Airline operator ANA Holdings Inc. and travel agency H.I.S. Co. plan to send tourists into outer space in seven years, the companies said Dec. 1.

The companies have invested a total of 50 million yen ($438,000) to accelerate development of a spacecraft that can carry two pilots and six passengers.

The design of the spacecraft will be similar to that of an ordinary airplane. It will reach an altitude of 100 kilometers, the starting point of outer space, and then land on Earth to complete the 90-minute parabolic route.

Passengers will be able to experience zero gravity for five minutes on the tours that are planned to start in December 2023.

The fare will be around 14 million yen per person, and 50 space travelers a year are expected, the companies said.

By comparison, the space tours of U.S.-based space venture Virgin Galactic, scheduled to start by the end of 2017, will cost $250,000 (28 million yen) per person.

“When I was a recruit, I contributed to an in-house newsletter and wrote that my dream was to travel to space in the future,” Shinya Katanozaka, president of ANA Holdings, said at a news conference on Dec. 1. “The space travel age is just around the corner.”

ANA Holdings will be in charge of operating the flights, including pilot training and maintenance. H.I.S. will take care of travel packages and sales.

Nagoya-based PD Aerospace Ltd., founded in 2007, is in charge of spacecraft development. It will manufacture two spaceships.

Development and manufacturing costs are expected to reach 17 billion yen.

ANA Holdings put forward about 20 million yen while H.I.S. committed 30 million yen to PD Aerospace in October.

The venture will use the money to bring three more workers to the project for a total of seven.

PD Aerospace plans to raise additional funds through loans and investments.

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