India’s first space tourist leaves for zero gravity flight


Kottayam (Kerala) : India’s first space tourist, Santhosh George Kulangara, left Tuesday for the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida where he will undergo four days of training, including a zero-gravity flight, ahead of his space flight next year.

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The 35-year-old travel freak from a village near here will become the first Indian to journey into space when he takes off on board the VVS Enterprise, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceship, towards the end of next year.

Speaking to IANS over telephone from Mumbai, just before flying out to Florida, Kulangara said he was very excited.

“I have a four-day training schedule that begins on Thursday. The most crucial aspect is a zero gravity flight on a special aircraft on Saturday. Apart from that, there are other checkups as well, according to the programme I have been given,” he said.

Kulangara had booked his space trip in 2004.

He revealed that the journey, including the latest training, would cost close to Rs.10 million. He is 38th in the list of space tourists.

Kulangara has already visited more than 50 countries and has written two books on his travels – with two more in the pipeline. He anchors a travelogue for a leading television channel here.

The frequent traveller is the managing director of Labour India Publications that brings out educational material for schoolchildren.