Prospects for space tourism in China boosted by cooperation agreement

BEIJING, July 13 (Reuters) – A Chinese space technology company said on Wednesday it had signed a co-operation agreement with the country’s largest state-owned travel company, the latest sign that a domestic technology industry will soon arrive. space tourism”.

CAS Space has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-based travel industry giant China Tourism Group, pledging to “jointly promote the application of commercial space technology and create a new space economy such as space tourism,” according to a statement posted on the official CAS Space WeChat account.

“Both sides will (…) make positive contributions to (help) China transition from a great space power to a strong space power,” said Yang Yiqing, chairman of CAS Space.

Yang also told state-run media China Daily in an interview on Wednesday that the company would start performing sub-orbital test flights next year. Only after a dozen such trips will the company open its space tourism services to the general public, he said.

Space tourism is currently dominated by Western companies, whether it is sub-orbital travel – reaching around 100 km in altitude and offering passengers a few minutes in space – offered by Virgin Galactic, or orbital travel much more expensive developed by SpaceX, which have reached an altitude of almost 600 km and can keep passengers in space for several days.

Yang’s announcement that test flights will begin in 2023 suggests China’s space tourism industry is gradually catching up with its Western counterparts. It’s only in recent years that Virgin Galactic and SpaceX have had successful first launches.

CAS Space – a company with close ties to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, China’s national science think tank and the world’s largest research organization – said in a press release last August that the space tourism vehicle that he had designed could carry up to seven passengers.

The company also said last year that it would start providing suborbital flights in 2024, predicting these would carry nearly 1,000 passengers into space each year.

Reporting by Eduardo Baptista; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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