Rooms in Space.
By Roland Wildberg ~ Weekly Exclusive - Views On The Latest Trends
Monday, 6th May 2013
Exclusive Feature: Tourist spaceflights are by and by becoming reality – and also an extraterrestrial destination is already in sight: The first space hotel is scheduled to open in a few years.

Unfortunately without cocktail bar, but at least with stunning panoramic views over the blue planet.

This week the first tourist spaceship has successfully completed its test flight: Last Monday "SpaceShipTwo" from US firm Virgin Galactic, another subsidiary of famous eccentric billionaire Richard Branson, thundered with Mach 1.2 over the Californian desert.

At Virgin Galactic, everything runs according to plan: end of the year, the first flight into zero gravity should be completed. Time is short for Branson's enterprise, because already 500 space tourists have made down payments for the spaceflight which cost per $200,000. Branson then has full machines for nearly two years.

If all goes well, up there they will soon have a real destination to head for: by 2015, the prototype of a space hotel shall orbit around the Earth. No kidding: Private carrier Bigelow Aerospace is puzzling for nearly 15 years now on their concept of space tourism, so far, there were no serious setbacks. Bigelow is more than just a dreamer: the successful US hotel developer has in addition to billions in assets the chain of "budget suites of America".

His BEAM called space module is a supra luxury hotel in terms of investment and accommodation costs, but far below budget standard in terms of comfort: An about three times by four metre barrel without windows, not to speak of balconies, spas or gyms.

Anyway, according to the Washington Post US space agency NASA pays $17.8 million for the vacuum hostel. By economic reasons, the alien flophouse is folded and only inflates in space. It does not orbit on its own, but will be docked to international space station ISS.

The missing of any peepholes in the astrotel could lose wealthy customers, because what good is an unobstructed views of the blue planet, if only via camera panorama can be enjoyed? However, for the first time anyway no leisure travel is intended - Bigelow Aerospace has in mind mainly business travelers.

Small countries who do not want to afford own space infrastructure, could book the module completely or per bed, breakfast included. But only in the first step – later a larger version of BEAM with six double rooms as a superlunary hideaway available to leisure travelers is going to be launched.

Even the room rates Bigelow has calculated already: two months in a double room will cost $ 25 million, split up per night we have the laughable amount of 416.666 dollars – with this even the Burj Al Arab cannot keep up with. Incidentally, the price is exclusive transport, for which still a national aerospace company is responsible. Perhaps there will be also packages some day.

If the competitor is not faster: Russian company Orbital Technologies two years ago has announced, to launch its own space station by 2016. Even prices for business or private accommodation are already been communicated: $160,000 per night, which is less than a third the rate of the BEAM.

But a quick click on the website of Orbital Technologies does not really stimulate the imagination: since end of 2010, the page has no longer been updated.

Maybe lost in space....

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Roland Wildberg is Travel Writer and Correspondent based in Berlin, Germany. He started as an Editor for the National daily 'Die Welt' (tourism section), later on switched to a freelanced career and nowadays mainly publishes on the Web. Observing the hospitality industry always has fascinated him as it looks like the perfect combination of sleeping and writing – work-live-balance as its best.

Roland also heads the annual 4Hoteliers ITB Berlin news micro-site journalist and video/photo teams. For more info:
www.4Hoteliers.com/itb. Contact us for detailed information on our annual ITB Marketing Programs & Options.
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