Long wait has dimmed excitement of India’s first space tourist

Long wait has dimmed excitement of India's likely first space tourist.

Thiruvananthapuram, (Asian independent) Santhosh George Kulangara, 49, is best described as a one man army who in the past more than a decade has travelled to 130 countries and has done 1,800 episodes of travel documentaries being aired on his own TV channel. During one such visit to England in 2005, he spotted an ad in a newspaper inviting applicants for space travel.

Speaking to IANS, Kulangara said that advertisement interested him and prompted his application to Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group.

“After that lot of paperwork took place and it was in 2007 that his application for it was cleared. Then I had regular meetings with them at their Space Centre or at their office in California and completed two training programmes in 2012 and 2013 and since then it’s been a wait,” said Kulangara.

“Honestly speaking as time elapses, the excitement I had when I first saw the ad in 2005 that I can travel to space is no longer there, now. The reason is, I do not consider that a space travel is the ultimate dream, that I have now, but nevertheless, I am happy that with their first mission taking place last week has turned successful, is definitely a good sign that my travel might take place soon,” said Kulangara.

“We have regular meetings with Branson’s team who keeps giving us updates and we are having the first interaction tomorrow with him, after he has returned from the first trip to space. We are expecting him to share his experience,” added Kulangara.

“At the moment, I feel I am the first one from India who has registered and I do not know, if there are others from India. As things stand, my guess is with the first trip taking place, I might be going for the space trip, this year itself. I am ready for it anytime and there will be one last round of training,” said Kulangara.

Kulangara travels all alone for doing his travelogue and just before Covid struck, he was in Mexico and he has now plans to travel to Iran and a few other countries and it will be done when the Covid tapers off.

Emphasising that one reason why his excitement that was there when he registered for the travel, is no longer there, he said it’s because at the moment his dream is to finish his 50,000 sq feet production studio, which is fast nearing completion at Kochi.

“When complete, this will be the most updated studio as in the modern world, film shooting is all about technology and not going for an outdoor shoot in an area of 500 acres. Such times have gone and now technology has taken over and all the big budget films that one sees are done using technology. This is my dream now,” quipped Kulangara.