Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Space race underway as Quebec travel firm jumps in

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LAVAL, Que. -- There's another space race underway -- only this one isn't nearly as ominous as the Cold War competition between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960s to get a man on the moon.

The new battle is between private companies that are working to get the space tourism industry off the ground this year.

For Canadians dreaming about becoming a space tourist, that's good news because a price war appears to be going on.

Space Expedition Corp. and XCor Aerospace signed a deal with Quebec travel agency Uniktour on Friday to offer suborbital flights to Quebecers.

A similar deal is in the works for the rest of the Canadian market and is set to be announced in the coming days in Toronto. Uniktour president Philippe Bergeron is already booked for a suborbital flight this December, which could make him the first Canadian to experience the thrill.

"I can't wait to see the black sky during the day and I can't wait to see the curvature of the Earth and to be propelled by four rocket engines," he said Friday.

"My seat is No. 15 in the world and so far I should be the first Canadian to take part in a suborbital flight -- if XCor is able to fly the first into space, which we think is a very nice possibility."

Space Expedition is offering two packages, with both including hotel stays and astronaut training.

A trip in the Lynx Mark 1 space plane will cost US$95,000. It will take travellers about 60 kilometres above the Earth where they will experience weightlessness for three to four minutes during the 45-minute flight.

The second package is for the Mark II and will cost US$100,000. That voyage will last 60 minutes and reach more than 100 kilometres above Earth. The weightlessness on that flight will last five to six minutes.

The competition in the space race comes from Virgin Galactic. A flight on its SpaceShipTwo will cost $200,000 per person.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 2, 2013 A13

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