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‘Espionage regulations’ stop Chinese tycoons from becoming space tourists

Chinese tycoons cannot be among Virgin Galactic’s space tourists because of “anti-espionage regulations” in the United States

Published: Updated:

Chinese nationals have been barred from boarding Virgin Galactic’s space tours, according to the UK’s Daily Mail, adding that “anti-espionage” U.S. regulations are behind the ban.

The company, which is part of magnate Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, is organizing its first commercial space flights, which are due to take off from the United States later this year.

Tycoons from China were told they cannot be among the space tourists because of “anti-espionage regulations” in the United States, the report said.

The Virgin space craft, which is powered by a rocket engine, is seen by the U.S.’s International Traffic in Arms Regulations as potential “military technology,” the report added.

People from countries such as China, Iran and North Korea have been denied access to military technology under the anti-espionage regulations, introduced during the Cold War.

“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,” a Virgin Galactic salesman based in Hong Kong told the Daily Mail.

“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 [U.S.] Green Card.”

The laws also prevent Virgin Galactic from launching space trips from outside the United States.

The British firm had been negotiating with U.S. regulators to be exempt from the rules.

The Virgin space ticket price stands at $250,000. It is said to take off from New Mexico in the second half of this year.

Some 600 people around the world have already put down deposits, the newspaper reported.