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Santosh George, the 1st Indian space tourist

Written by: Staff

Kottayam, Mar 16: Famed Globetrotter Santosh George Kulangara,Managing Director of the Labour India Group, is all set to become thefirst Indian space tourist.

Mr Kulangara would fly on board the Virgin Galactic's Space Shipby mid 2008. The Virgin Galactic is a venture of Sir Richard Branson ofthe Virgin Atlantic.

He said he would become the 38th such passenger, the confirmationin that regard received from the Virgin Galactic two weeks back.

Mr Kulangara has visited more than 50 countries and his travelogueon his various visits is being telecast. Australia was the 50th countryhe visited under the famed 'Sanjaram' (Journey) program. He also gotpermission for filming the whole gamut of preparations and flightsequences, he said.

The list of the Astronauts would be announced in Paris on May 10 and Mr Kulangara will attend the conference.

The 35-year-old Journalist told UNI that, ''I came to know aboutmy selection for the travel but I am excited for it not as a spacetraveler or as a tourist, but as a Journalist to report the event tocommon people. I want to share what I experience with people. It hasbecome a part of my life.'' The three hour Odyssey will take off fromMojave Spaceport at California in the US as soon as mandatory checks onthe Space Ship are done, most likely by mid 2008. The Virgin Galactichad already test-flown its SpaceShipOne to announce its Space tourismproject.

''There will be three days of pre-flight preparations. This willequip us with necessary basic knowledge for the travel. On completion,they will gift me with Astronaut wings'', Mr Kulangara said.

Mr Kulangara and his co-voyagers would first be taken to a heightof 50,000 ft in the Spacecraft attached to a specially designed Jetcarrier. The scramjet technology would take them to space at thrice thespeed of sound from that height to float in zero gravity environs.After a three-hour quiet swim through sub orbital darkness, theSpacecraft would deorbit to re-enter earth's atmosphere.

The trip's cost is an estimated two lakh US dollars. Mr Kulangarahas already paid 20,000 dollar as the first installment. Nationalchannels had approached him for sponsoring the programme, he said, whenasked for the source of the money.

There will be six travelers on board the Space Ship besides two pilots.

The present intention of the organisers was to operate the Spaceship once in a week and later on a daily basis.

The Space Ship would operate from Mojave Space port and later from its own Spaceport from England.

This is Sir Richard's first commercial space ship. His aim was to send 3000 persons to space in five years.

''I have already traveled to almost all important countries. I wasthinking about what would come when next, when I came to know about thespace tourism project. I contacted them in 2004 but they said they werenot taking any booking. In August last year, I contacted them again andI booked my place, he said.



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