Russia’s space agency is adding a dose of luxury to its bid to return to the space tourism business. It wants to build five-star accommodations on the International Space Station.
The plan, if successful, would help Russia compete with private companies such as SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin that have their own space tourism plans.
Popular Mechanics had a chance to examine a detailed proposal for a luxury orbital addition to the ISS that would offer everything you might expect in an orbital suite, amenities like private cabins with large windows for space viewing, exercise equipment, and of course, Wi-Fi. Space tourists would stay in the plush accommodations on proposed one- to two-week trips that would also offer a chance to take space walks with a professional cosmonaut. Roscosmos State Corporation, the governmental body responsible for Russia’s space science program, has started reviewing the business plan proposed by space station contractor, RSC Energia.
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The trip cost starts at $40 million. The space walk and an option to stay for a month would cost another $20 million.
Of course, building a luxury orbital suite is no simple or cheap matter.
The idea is to use revenue from the space tourists to pay for construction of the 20-ton, 15.5-meter-long module that will house four sleeping quarters and two “hygiene and medical” stations.
As Popular Mechanics notes, the external structure of this luxury hotel looks a lot like the Science and Power Module, NEM-1, which Russia is currently building for the ISS. The NEM-1, which has been delayed several times, is now expected to be completed in 2021.
The original plans for ISS had a two NEM modules, but Russia only funded one. This second, luxury module—specially outfitted for space tourists—would allow Russia to fulfill that initial plan.
Keep in mind, this is not a new idea. Talk of a luxury space hotel was floated at least as far back as 2010 when a Russian aerospace company said it planned to build such a station by 2016. That has yet to materialize.