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Russians punt $40m space honeymoon

No zero-grav nookie, though

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Those of a romantic bent and a generously-proportioned wallet might like to consider the possibility of a honeymoon in space.

The Russian Rosaviakosmos space agency and US outfit Space Adventures are offering newly-weds the chance to celebrate their love in a zero-gravity, $40m trip-of-a-lifetime to the International Space Station.

The package includes eight months' training and a white-knuckle post-nuptial rollercoaster blast aboard a Soyuz space craft. Since eight months is longer than the duration of the avaerage marriage these days, we can't see there being many takers.

Of course, many might like the idea of actually tying the knot among the stars, but that's also a non-starter since the Russians have apparently banned marriage in space.

Why? we haven't the foggiest idea. It's a bit like prohibiting share trading for those who might have access to a time machine or participation in the football Premiership by cyborgs with 22nd-century ball-handling capabilities, should they ever come onto the transfer market.

What's more, Rosaviakosmos cannot even confirm that intergalactic sex will be permitted - which would certainly be the first question any potential honeymooners would ask.

Add stringent checks to confirm that candidates "don't have bad habits, money from illegal sources and don't belong to any terrorist organisation," as a spokesman put it, and you've pretty well taken all of the fun out of space tourism.

Still, anyone who has made $40m legally and who fancies exceeding even the Maldives as a honeymoon location can reserve tickets now for the 2004-5 space tourist season. Just bear in mind you may not need the "Do not Disturb" sign. ®

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