Bad news for would-be first Indian space tourists

India’s Express News Service reported last week that Santhosh George Kulangara is under investigation by India’s Income Tax Department for possible tax evasion. Kulangara, managing director of Labour India Group Publications, is also frequently identified as India’s first space tourist since he is one of Virgin Galactic’s first 100 customers, aka “Founders”. He was not at home or work at the time of the raids: the “travel freak” was on an expedition to Antarctica, according to the report.

As dire as his predicament is, it pales in comparison to Jay Patel, who also claims to be the first Indian space tourist: you see, he’s either the victim or perpetrator of a scam. Patel claims that he’ll be flying into space this November or next January at the latest along with a Russian, Sergei Polonsky (who previously sought to fly to the ISS)—and John Travolta.

Who will be flying this trio? PanAero, on its “Space Van 2010″. There is a PanAero, but the company never progressed beyond vehicle concepts and its founder, Len Cormier, passed away last June. The article also claims that PanAero “got approval from NASA” last week, another giant red flag.

It’s not clear whether Patel has fallen for some scheme or he’s knowingly promoting something that isn’t going to happen. What is clear, though, is that Daily News and Analysis, the Indian site that published this report, doesn’t have much of a factchecking department.

5 comments to Bad news for would-be first Indian space tourists

  • Well, you can look at it from a different perspective:

    -Nether of them is as bad as Bernie Madoff.

    -Probably India is a lot more business-friendly than Obamerica. For that matter China has no capital gains taxes. zip. zero. So we should be looking for a lot more legit investors and passengers from those countries, when they catch up with New Space notions, which may be a few years yet.

    Even if China is more capitalist than we are now, it _is_ an authoritarian country. Though Obama is working to catch up, so we can have the worst of both worlds.

  • […] apparently did not catch him at the office. Santhosh was away exploring Antarctica when the raids […]

  • Charles Phillips

    India has quite an industry fabricating space stories – the 20 year old kid (Arnab Kakoti) who was heading up a project for NASA. They have a lot more enthusiasm than accuracy.

  • If Jay is flying to space then its good thing for india.


    Well, definately santhosh is going to space…see his training schedules etc…Its going to be great for India…

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