Chinese nationals have been banned from flying on the commercial space flights operated by Virgin Galactic over fears that the rocket technology being implemented will be stolen.
This is due to the fact that the British firm will be launching its craft from the US, where strict antiespionage regulations introduced during the Cold War still restrict the privileges of citizens from countries such as China, Iran and North Korea. Because Galactic’s craft are powered by rocket engines it is seen as a potential military technology and covered by the US’s International Traffic in Arms regulations.
“We have had calls from people in China but we have to tell them we can’t accept them if they only have a Chinese passport,” said Hong Kong-based Virgin Galactic salesman. “We advise them on how they can make themselves eligible for a space tour. For example, they can get another nationality’s passport or they can apply for a (US) Green Card.” The news certainly deprives Virgin Galactic of access to a huge potential market of wealthy Chinese businessmen willing to pay the $250,000 ticket price for a space flight, but the company might also have more substantial problems. the independent