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Tourist space vehicle on display

The treasury is supporting the space company

School children on the Isle of Man are among the first people to find out about a Manx-based company's plans to take tourists into space.

Excalibur Almaz has been displaying the reusable re-entry vehicle (RRV) it plans to use for its tourist "missions" at King William's College, Castletown.

The capsule, which last flew into orbit in 1978, is being renovated ahead of its first projected use in 2013.

Tourists are likely to be charged up to $40m (£24.7m) for a seven-day flight.

Prices will be dictated by the market at the time but in the current market would cost between $30m (£18.5m) and $40m, a spokeswoman said.

The view of the earth from space is the most spectacular thing
Leroy Chiao, Excalibur Almaz

Leroy Chiao, vice president of operations, spent a number of years as a Nasa astronaut and has flown into space four times.

He said the tourists would be paying for a rare experience and "spectacular view".

"They'll have a view of the earth that very few people have had," said Mr Chiao.

"Only approximately 500 people in the history of the world have had the chance to go into space and look back at the earth.

Excalibur Almaz's RRV
The RRV is one of three owned by the company

"The view of the earth from space is the most spectacular thing.

"People often ask us what do you do in your spare time. 'Do you watch movies? Do you read books?' And we have those things on board.

"But most of the time you spend all the free time you have looking out the window - because it's just so spectacular."

The company, which is based in Douglas, has bought three of the former Russian space capsules and two space stations as part of the venture.

King William's pupils are the first on the island to get to explore the RRV and ask questions of former astronauts and cosmonauts.

Children from other schools will visit throughout the week before the exhibition is opened to the public.



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