The Taobao booking site for Dutch Space Expedition Corp's outer space trips set for 2015 and beyond. (Taobao)
After recently making its foray into the world of fine art, Alibaba’s e-commerce site Taobao has another unique sale available for rich Chinese online shoppers: a trip into outer space.
Orders open on June 12 to book a trip with the Dutch Space Expedition Corp, which has chosen Taobao as the exclusive broker for its business in China. Trips start at 599,999 yuan ($96,000) for the Pioneer Astronaut program, which will allow travelers to fly 61 km high on a Lynx Mark I expected to start flying as early as 2015. They can also sign up for the “Founder Astronaut” trip for 1.39 million yuan ($221,760) or the “Future Astronaut” journey for 629,999 yuan ($100,800), which will entail a ride on a Lynx Mark II that will travel 103 km high.
Not every rich Chinese traveler can qualify. Participants need to be more than 18 years old and less than two meters tall. They also can’t weigh more than 125 kilograms, and must pass a medical exam and training program before they can go on their adventure.
Registrations for space trips with the company began in mainland China in December 2013, and more than 100 people expressed interest within the first few weeks. Each trip will feature one astronaut and one passenger, and will allow the tourist to experience space for "five to six" very expensive minutes, according to the company.
Targeting China’s wealthy tourist market is must for space travel companies—a recent Hurun study found that Chinese high-net-worth individuals are showing a growing interest in adventure travel, and 7 percent view a trip into space as “must-achieve travel in the next three years.”