Sky is no limit for this travel agency

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.

    The package includes a trip to the International Space Station

    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.

    Discount package

    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.



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