SHANGHAI, China A Chinese electronics entrepreneur is among the first group of space tourists that will blast off on Virgin Galactic's inaugural suborbital flight scheduled for 2008.
The Zhejiang Province millionaire is shelling out about $200,000 for the chance to go where few men have gone before. The man, only identified by his surname Jiang, is among a growing class of nouveau riche in China, many who have made their fortunes in the electronics and Internet industries. Another Chinese woman is reportedly angling to join him on the flight.
Virgin Galactic is headed up by British tycoon Richard Branson, whose other exploits include numerous attempts to round the globe in a high-altitude balloon. Branson has said he and his family will be among the first 100 "founders" to experience the first series of commercial flights into space aboard SpaceShipTwo.
The ship, which holds six passengers and two pilots, is based on a design that was funded by billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. It is capable of reaching an altitude of 400,000 feet (about 76 miles, or 122 kilometers). That compares to commercial flights that usually top out around 30,000 feet cruising altitude. The first version of SpaceShipTwo will reportedly be named VSS (Virgin Space Ship) Enterprise.
There is no word yet on whether Jiang has secured permission from the Chinese government for the flight into space. China sometimes restricts overseas travel by its citizens.