BARCELONA, Spain - A venture called Galactic Suite says it wants to open a hotel in space in 2012, but it's not yet clear exactly how much backing is behind the design concept.
Galactic Suite's Barcelona-based architects say guests would pay $4 million each for a three-day stay aboard the orbital equivalent of a three-bedroom boutique hotel.
Before the flight, guests would get eight weeks of intensive training at a space camp on a tropical island, company director Xavier Claramunt told Reuters. Then the tourists would ride an private shuttle into orbit. Hotel 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
Claramunt said the 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."
To take a zero-gravity shower, the guests would enter a spa room in which cleansing bubbles of water float around. When they're not admiring the view from their portholes, they will take part in scientific experiments on space travel.
At the end of the stay, the shuttle would bring guests back down to Galactic Suite's spaceport. "There is fear associated with going into space," Claramunt said. "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."
Claramunt, a former aerospace engineer, said the Galactic Suite concept began as a hobby. He told Reuters that a space enthusiast agreed to provide most of the $3 billion needed to build the hotel - but he declined to name the backer.
Galactic Suite's Web site says another supporter of the venture is Florida-based 4Frontiers Corp., a company that cites Mars settlement as its top goal. A representative of that company declined to discuss the project Friday but said the company's co-founder and chief executive officer, Mark Homnick, was on his way back to Florida from Barcelona.
CTAE, a Barcelona-based aerospace center, was also listed as a supporter. Claramunt told Reuters that his venture was in talks with private investors from Japan, the United States and the United Arab Emirates.
Claramunt said the market for orbital space travel could be substantial. "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."
Galactic Suite," the first hotel in space, will open for business in 2012, its Barcelona-based architects said Friday.
Reservations for Galactic Suite will begin in 2008, company director Xavier Claramunt told journalists.
"Galactic suite will allow clients to travel around the World in 80 minutes," Claramunt said.
It will be made of aluminum and have five modules, he said.
The three boutique rooms will be decorated with mini components because of a lack of room and due to the fact that objects float in space because of the absence of gravity, Claramunt said.
"The greatest challenge will be the bathrooms with zero gravity. Accommodating the clients' intimate activities is not easy. To take a shower in zero gravity, the guests will enter the spa in which water bubbles will float," he added.
Guests will also be able to participate in scientific experiments during their stay in Galactic Suite hotel, 450 kms from Earth.
The space hotel will be the most expensive in the galaxy, costing three million euros (3.99 million U.S. dollars) for a three-day stay, during which guests would see the sun rise 15 times a day, its architects said.
It is estimated that some 40,000 people worldwide will be able to buy a Galactic-Suite ticket which is not as expensive as the 20-million-dollar ticket paid by the first space tourist Dennis Tito, who traveled to space in Soyuz TM-32 on April 28, 2001.
For the moment Galactic Suite has private investors from United Arab Emirates and Japan, local press reported.