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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 June, 2003, 07:03 GMT 08:03 UK
Space trips up for grabs

By Jane Standley
BBC correspondent in New York

The US company which helped put the first two tourists in space says it is ready to start selling tickets for its first solely commercial trip in 2005.

The company - Space Adventures - will be charging $20m a person for the roughly 10-day trip to the International Space Station.

It announced in New York that it was looking for paying guests.

First space tourist Dennis Tito
Dennis Tito was at the launch to extol the virtues of space travel

The Virginia-based company says it already has around a dozen interested prospective customers for the two seats it is offering.

The tourists will have to have the health and endurance to complete rigorous training - as well as the money - before they can blast off into space sometime in 2005.

The seats are being offered by the company as part of a deal it has made with the Russian Aviation and Space Agency.

The tourists will leave from one of its facilities and fly in one of its Soyuz spacecraft.

The company carried the first civilian in space - American millionaire Dennis Tito - two years ago.

It is an experience he would like to repeat.

"The entire eight days was just one euphoric experience that exceeds all the pleasures you can think of times 10," he says.

The American Government was not so enthusiastic when Mr Tito went to the International Space Station with the Russians and it is likely not to be too pleased with the selling of new space tickets.

The US's space programme has been grounded pending an investigation since the Columbia shuttle broke up on re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere in February.

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