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Space launch fans need spacious wallets
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Space travel fans who want to see the launch of China's Shenzhou VII shuttle at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center later this month will have to pay 15,000 yuan (US$2,206) for the experience.

The cost includes an air ticket to Jiuquan in northwestern China's Gansu Province and a four-day stay, the Wenhui Daily reported yesterday.

But even if fans can afford the price they will still struggle to get a ticket because there are very few available. People who want to buy these have to provide their ID and a reference from their employers.

Tourists were invited to watch a satellite launch for the first time last year at the launch of China's first lunar satellite in Xichang, in the southwest Sichuan Province.

But last year the trip cost just 800 yuan per person. More than 2,000 enthusiasts watched Chang'e from two observation platforms 2.5 kilometers from the site.

But Jiuquan is a long way from the nearest town, making it very difficult to organize tours. While the cost for a trip to watch the Shenzhou VII launch may be a problem, a bigger problem is the lack of facilities and other tourist attractions in Jiuquan.

The development of the aeronautical and astronautical industry is increasing interest in launch tours. The area next to the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in Hainan, which is under construction, has been designed with spectators in mind.

By 2010, 21,000 people will live in the area which will be able to cope with 12,000 tourists at a time.

(Shanghai Daily September 18, 2008)

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