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Japan Begins "Space Tourist" Program
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TOKYO, JAPAN - To bring additional funding into its space agency (JAXA), Japan has opened the door to space tourism, following Russia's lead. "After several failures, culminating in our most recent failed launch, we are finding ourselves in a fiscal crisis, due to non-payment by customers for failed or less-than-successful missions." The funds generated by the tourism program will be devoted to identifying and correcting the causes of Japan's series of space failures.

"It sounds like they are looking for crash-test dummies," said Dennis Tito, the first space tourist, "and they expect you to pay for the privilege. I don't think I'll be cutting them a check any time soon."

NASA refused our requests for an interview on the topic, stating only in part: "NASA appreciates Japan's continued efforts in space. We sincerely hope that our Japanese partners won't allow this 'fiscal crisis' to affect their support for the International Space Station."

China recently joined the elite group of nations to successfully orbit a human being in space. Japan has yet to do so, and until now had not expressed any intention to bring this about. How they intend to ramp up development of life-support and reentry equipment and procedures to allow for the new program was not revealed.
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