Space Hotel Set For 2012 Opening
I have been telling people since I was a kid that before I die I would be able to go into outer space for a weekend getaway. Of course I was met with the usual blank stare that a backwoods, east Texas kid might expect to get for such a "Unrealistic" assertion. I told you so is still not in order, but maybe one step closer. It is not the Holliday Inn, but for those monetarily affluent enough to pony up the $4 million price tag, packing up the family and heading north (waayy north) to the Galactic Suite will soon be an option.
The project, which started out as a hobby, recently was kicked into gear when a wealthy space enthusiast came forward willing to front most of the $3 Billion needed to fund the projects. The Barcelona based group of architects managing the endeavor has also indicated that it has signed on investors from the U.S., Japan and The United Arab Emirates as well. Guests at Galactic Suite will receive a host of amenities for the stays lofty price tag, including 3 days at the hotel where they will see the sun rise 15 times. They can also enjoy the thrill of zero gravity while sticking themselves to the top of their pod like Spiderman to catch the view from one of the hotels many port holes. In preparation for their flight, guests will have to endure a rigorous 8 week space camp where they will be exposed to the harsh elements of a beautiful tropical Island getaway. And just to get them over the fear of space travel, hotel operators are planning to keep the space plane attached to the side of the suite for the duration of their stay; "Just to let them know they can always get home" states company director Xavier Claramunt. While Claramunt is closed mouthed on exactly who his generous backers are, he does say that there are an estimated 40,000 people world wide who can afford to take the trip and he looks forward to seeing to seeing if they would be willing to pony up the dough to go where few men have ever gone before.
By Pascale Harter
BARCELONA (Reuters) - "Galactic Suite", the first hotel planned in space, expects to open for business in 2012 and would allow guests to travel around the world in 80 minutes.
Its Barcelona-based architects say the space hotel will be the most expensive in the galaxy, costing $4 million for a three-day stay.
During that time guests would see the sun rise 15 times a day and use Velcro suits to crawl around their pod rooms by sticking themselves to the walls like Spiderman.
Company director Xavier Claramunt says the three-bedroom boutique hotel's joined up pod structure, which makes it look like a model of molecules, was dictated by the fact that each pod room had to fit inside a rocket to be taken into space.
"It's the bathrooms in zero gravity that are the biggest challenge," says Claramunt. "How to accommodate the more intimate activities of the guests is not easy."
But they may have solved the issue of how to take a shower in weightlessness -- the guests will enter a spa room in which bubbles of water will float around.
When guests are not admiring the view from their portholes they will take part in scientific experiments on space travel.
Galactic Suite began as a hobby for former aerospace engineer Claramunt, until a space enthusiast decided to make the science fiction fantasy a reality by fronting most of the $3 billion needed to build the hotel.
An American company intent on colonizing Mars, which sees Galaxy Suite as a first step, has since come on board, and private investors from Japan, the United States and the United Arab Emirates are in talks.
PLENTY RICH ENOUGH
If Claramunt is secretive about the identity of his generous backer, he is more forthcoming about the custom he can expect.
"We have calculated that there are 40,000 people in the world who could afford to stay at the hotel. Whether they will want to spend money on going into space, we just don't know."
Four million dollars might be a lot to spend on a holiday, but those in the nascent space tourism industry say hoteliers have been slow on the uptake because no one thought the cost of space travel would come down as quickly as it has.
Galactic Suite said the price included not only three nights in space. Guests also get eight weeks of intensive training at a James Bond-style space camp on a tropical island.
"There is fear associated with going into space," said Claramunt. "That's why the shuttle rocket will remain fixed to the space hotel for the duration of the guests' stay, so they know they can get home again."
In an era of concern over climate change, Galaxy Suite have no plans so far to offset the pollution implications of sending a rocket to carry just six guests at a time into space.
"But," says Claramunt, "I'm hopeful that the impact of seeing the earth from a distance will stimulate the guests' urge to value and protect our planet."