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.