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15 Oct, 2007 06:26

Space tourists offered bank loans

The First Czech-Russia bank has announced it's willing to consider giving loans to people who want to travel into space. Bankers says there's no reason why a space loan should be any different to any other kind.

Unthinkable just a few years ago, the bank isn't expecting to be overrun with applicants. But it is saying that if borrowers have the capacity to make repayments and want to blast off, then they're the people to talk to.

“We are following of the development of space tourism. I think giving loans for this kind of tourism is possible. It will happen on an individual basis. We are ready to provide clients with this kind of service,” said Roman Popov, President of First Czech-Russian Bank.

As far as the bank is concerned, it works just like any other loan.

The concept of space tourism is becoming more commercialized. Companies such as Virgin Galactic and Space Adventures are already enticing people into orbit with the first commercial rockets expected to lift off in the next few years.

“Space tourism as a business is developing in different ways. I'm sure it's a very interesting market and the demand for this type of travel will only increase,” says Sergey Kostenko, the Head of Space Adventures Russia.

The first space tourist was America's Dennis Tito. He parted with an estimated $US 20 million to go where few men had gone before, and others have since followed in his footsteps.

But not everyone is welcoming the arrival of space tourism.

According to cosmonaut Aleksandr Volkov, “it's not the right time for space tourism. The only reason it happens is because of the sums tourists are ready to pay for this kind of travel.”

Given the costs involved – in training, equipment, and preparation – space tourism will remain a privilege of the very rich for the forseeable future.