September 30, 2010

First Space Hotel Seeking Investors

A senior executive said on Thursday that the lead Russian contractor for the International Space Station (ISS) says it is planning on building the first space hotel to cash in on the growing private tourism market.

Alexander Derechine, the company's deputy chief designer, said Energia wants investors for a private space station that would house up to seven people and serve as a hotel.

"Commercial space ships are being built around the world, they will need to fly somewhere," Derechin told Reuters.

The company paired up with Orbital Technologies in order to help raise investment and market the service.

The space tourism market has jumped in recent years.  Virgin Galactic, a private space tourism offshoot of Virgin Atlantic Airways, said earlier this year it is aiming to test space launch flights in 2011.

Orbital said in a statement that the hotel will provide facilities for scientific research, media projects and entertainment, and will be able to dock with Russia's Soyuz manned spacecraft and Progress transport craft.

Derechin told Reuters that private investors have pledged to commit between $100 million and $1 billion.  Orbital said that several customers have already signed contracts.

"I do not think we will be able to complete it before 2015 but I do not think we should wait much beyond that. The competition is growing and we need to hurry up," Derechin told Reuters.

Derechin said that the Russian project will compete with Bigelow Aerospace, a Las Vegas-based firm headed by hotelier Robert Bigelow that also plans to build a space complex.

Russia said earlier this year that it will temporarily halt trips for space tourists because it does not have spare capacity on Soyuz flights as the ISS expanded to accommodate a permanent crew of six.


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