Space tourism spreads to Japan

Space Adventures of Arlington, Virginia has sealed the deal on an exclusive marketing partnership with the Tokyo-based travel agency, JTB Corporation. The agreement announced today opens wide the door for the Japanese to buy commercial treks into space and related experiences from Space Adventures. JTB will market a wide array of programs available from Space Adventures, including the recently announced Deep Space Expeditions (DSE-Alpha) mission to the Moon — the first in a series of lunar missions being offered. That mission could liftoff as early as 2008, according to a Space Adventures press statement. The cost of trekking to the Moon, rounding it, and heading back to Earth is priced at a “circum-spectacular” cost of $100 million a seat, in U.S. dollars. Two commercial seats per would be available. More good news: A third seat is occupied by a pilot cosmonaut.

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NASA’s next space shuttle will likely launch in March 2006 and not be the Atlantis orbiter as previously planned, space agency officials said Thursday.

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