LAVAL, Que. - There's another space race underway — only this one isn't nearly as ominous as the Cold War competition between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960s to get a man on the moon.

The new battle is between private companies that are working to get the space tourism industry off the ground this year.

For Canadians dreaming about becoming a space tourist, that's good news because a price war appears to be going on.

Space Expedition Corp. and XCor Aerospace signed a deal with Quebec travel agency Uniktour on Friday to offer suborbital flights to Quebecers.

A similar deal is in the works for the rest of the Canadian market and is set to be announced in the coming days in Toronto.

Uniktour president Philippe Bergeron is already booked for a suborbital flight this December, which could make him the first Canadian to experience the thrill.

"I can't wait to see the black sky during in the day and I can't wait to see the curvature of the Earth and to be propelled by four rocket engines,'' he said Friday.

"My seat is number 15 in the world and so far I should be the first Canadian to take part in a suborbital flight — if XCor is able to fly the first into space, which we think is a very nice possibility."

Bergeron, 33, will travel in the pioneer Lynx Mark 1 space plane, which is still undergoing tests.

Sylvain Belair, executive director of the Montreal-area Cosmodome space museum, where the announcement was made, is Uniktour's first customer to confirm his seat on board a flight in 2014.

Space Expedition is offering two packages, with both including hotel stays and astronaut training.

A trip in the Lynx Mark 1 space plane will cost US$95,000. It will take travellers about 60 kilometres above the Earth where they will experience weightlessness for three to four minutes during the 45-minute flight.

The second package is for the Mark II and will cost US$100,000. That voyage will last 60 minutes and reach more than 100 kilometres above Earth. The weightlessness on that flight will last five to six minutes.

The competition in the space race comes from Virgin Galactic. A flight on its SpaceShipTwo will cost $200,000 per person and the space shuttle will carry six passengers and two pilots.

After being launched from a mother ship, the rocket plane would take space tourists about 110 kilometres above Earth — where they would also briefly experience weightlessness.

Virgin Galactic will launch out of Spaceport America, in the southern part of the New Mexico. The Lynx will blast off from spaceports in California's Mojave desert and Curacao, an island in the Caribbean sea just north of Venezuela.

The Lynx space shuttle, which takes off like a commercial airliner, has room for a pilot and a passenger.

Bergeron admitted the price of the package does not include airfare to the launch site. He said a regular return flight to the spaceport in California would cost about $600.

Reinhard Spronk, Space Expedition's chief commercial officer, said his company eventually wants to have four space trips a day.

"Virgin Galactic is one time per day," he added. "That's because they have to take out the engine overnight and put in a new engine."

"We just keep our (reusable) engine in and it can be in operation 5,000 times."

Spronk also noted that Virgin's space trip is a two-hour experience "because the first hour, the mother ship will take (passengers) up to 12 kilometres and then the rocket plane will go from there."

"We start right away from the runway so we don't use a mother ship," he added.

But the actual time spent being weightless in space in both cases is about the same.

Greg Claxton, XCor's retail sales director, says travelling in the Lynx spaceplane is like being a real astronaut because the space tourist gets to act like a co-pilot and will have a view from a front window.

"It's the real 'right-stuff' experience," he said.

Claxton also pointed out that there's a medical check-up before space tourists are allowed to fly.

"If you are claustrophobic or have heart problems, you will be excluded," he added.

He said XCor is hoping to do its test flights this summer — "and if all goes well, it'd be great to start flights in the end of December or early in 2014."

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Bloon - Zero2Infinity's Balloon

    The bloon, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/24/bloon-space-balloon-pictures-video_n_935415.html" target="_hplink">a helium-filled balloon</a>, will take a capsule with as many as six people to 118,000 feet -- not quite outer space, but near space. The company expects to make its first commercial flight in 2013. The cost? €110,000, or about $147,000.

  • NASA

    NASA announced in September that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/14/nasa-space-launch-system-sls_n_962051.html" target="_hplink">it's developing the Space Launch System (SLS)</a>, a heavy-lift rocket that will one day take humans farther than ever before. The 34-story rocket will carry six astronauts aboard the <a href="http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/mpcv/" target="_hplink">Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle</a>. <a href="http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2392960,00.asp" target="_hplink">According to PC Mag</a>, NASA will spend $18 billion over the next five years developing the SLS. With <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/14/space-shuttle-program-qa-_n_861994.html" target="_hplink">the retirement of the space shuttle program</a>, NASA currently pays Russia around $60 million per person to get American astronauts into space. Remember, there's still time <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/15/nasa-to-hire-new-astronauts_n_1095686.html" target="_hplink">to apply to be an astronaut</a>.

  • Virgin Galactic

    Over 450 "astronauts" have already booked a $200,000 spot on Sir Richard Branson's SpaceShipTwo, a craft that will take passengers to an altitude of 110 km (68.3 miles). Branson hopes to begin commercial flights in 2013, but that date could get pushed back. "We want to be sure we've really tested the craft through and through before turning it over to the astronauts who bought tickets to go up," he said in October, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/18/richard-branson-dedicates_n_1017226.html" target="_hplink">according to the Associated Press</a>. "If it takes a bit longer, we'll take a little bit longer." Passengers will experience about five minutes of weighlessness during the 2 1/2 hour sub-orbital spaceflight.

  • SpaceX

    In December 2010, SpaceX <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/16/spacex-international-space-station_n_927916.html" target="_hplink">became the first private company</a> to have a spacecraft re-enter orbit, <a href="http://www.spacex.com/press.php?page=20101208" target="_hplink">when its Dragon spacecraft</a> orbited earth twice and then landed in the Pacific Ocean. Next stop? The International Space Station. A representative from SpaceX told HuffPost that a Dragon capsule carrying supplies to the ISS will launch in early 2012. It will be the first commercial company to berth a spacecraft with the space station. But you're going to have to be a NASA astronaut to hitch a ride to space with SpaceX, as the company doesn't have any plans in the near future for space tourism.

  • Blue Origin

    Blue Origin, the notoriously-secretive company underwritten by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, is developing both orbital and sub-orbital launch vehicles to take people into space. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/03/blue-origin-spaceship-fai_n_947731.html" target="_hplink">The company recently released video</a> of a test of its New Shepard rocket, a three-person capsule and launch vehicle that the company is planning to use to take space tourists "to the edge of space." The cost and timeline of the completion of the New Shepard is unclear. <a href="http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/nasa-awards-next-set-of-commercial-crew-development-agreements-120113774.html" target="_hplink">In April, Blue Origin was awarded</a> $22 million from NASA "to advance commercial crew space transportation system concepts and mature the design and development of elements of their systems, such as launch vehicles and spacecraft."

  • Space Adventures/Armadillo Aerospace

    Space Adventures, a company that has sent seven private citizens to the International Space Station, <a href="http://www.spaceadventures.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=news.viewnews&newsid=791" target="_hplink">announced in 2010</a> that it would partner with Armadillo Aerospace to provide suborbital spaceflights. The <a href="http://www.spaceadventures.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=suborbital.Vehicle_Design" target="_hplink">two-passenger rocket</a> will land and take-off vertically and allow for a 360-degree view of the earth below. According to Jaunted, the rocket will travel 62 miles above the earth. <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2010/05/13/space-adventures-undercuts-virgin-galactic-announces-100-000/" target="_hplink">Engadget reports</a> that a flight to space will set you back $102,000.

  • Orbital Technologies' Space Hotel

    Of course, you'll need somewhere to put your bags once you're in space. Orbital Technologies, a Russian company, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/21/space-hotel-pictures-video_n_931951.html" target="_hplink">is building a space hotel</a> where 7 guests will be able to dine on veal cheeks and wild mushrooms at 217 miles above the earth. The company is planning to open the hotel in 2016. <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/19/russia-space-tourism-idUSLDE77F0PF20110819" target="_hplink">According to Reuters</a>, a five-day stay will set you back a cool $1 million.

  • Video: "Nasa Searches For Life Clues on Mars" info