February 16, 2006 The sunrise industry of Space tourism has already demonstrated how lucrative it could become with the prices rumoured to have been paid by the first three space tourists. Californian millionaire Denis Tito became the first paying customer of Space Adventures in mid 2001 parting with an unconfirmed US$20 million and similar numbers were bandied around for 28 year old South African technology millionaire Mark Shuttleworth, and American technology entrepreneur Greg Olsen who returned from the International Space Station in October, 2005. Hong Kong resident and Japanese entrepreneur Daisuke Enomoto (Dice-K) will become the fourth space tourist this coming October, but while the number of spare seats available at the International Space Station remain extremely limited, the laws of supply and demand will ensure that space remains the domain of paid astronauts and the privileged super-wealthy. Hope is however at hand, as the United States Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta has announced that commercial space craft could be cleared to carry passengers by as early as 2008. Speaking to a group of space entrepreneurs, the Secretary said that a number of companies should be set to take passengers into space and that the U.S. Department of Transportation would be ready to clear these flights within two years.
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