Here on earth, the expansions to the wide world of travel are pretty exciting. Fitness vacations are a booming trend, as are female solo escapades. And between the Game of Thrones hotel in Finland and insanely long zip lines in the UAE, there are exciting new ventures debuting every day. But, even if you aren’t a massive Star Wars fans, the most exotic destination (and the most expensive one) is definitely outer space.
So it only makes sense that the Russian space agency, whose rockets NASA officially depend on to send astronauts into orbit, are attempting to shoulder their way into the luxury space tourism business. State officials have announced that, for a cool $40 million, you could stay at the forthcoming five-star accommodations on the International Space Station (ISS) that they’re hoping to build by 2021. If you want to actually take a space walk like a real astronaut, that’ll set you back an extra $20 million.
In addition to offering some pretty spectacular views of earth, the luxury suite would include private cabins with large windows, a bathroom, exercise equipment and, of course, Wi-Fi. Space tourists would have the option to stay one or two weeks, though for another $20 million, one can extend the trip to last an entire month.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: Is this really going to happen?
It’s hard to say. As Russian space agency expert Anatoly Zak notes in Popular Mechanics, it all comes down to funding. The new “tourist module” is estimated to cost anywhere from $279 to $446 million, and space station contractor RKK Energia needs to book several passengers up front to get the hotel module off the ground. “This plan bets on the growing number of multi-millionaires around the world,” Zak writes. “By some estimates, by 2021 there will be more than 43,000 people globally whose personal fortune exceeds $30 million. It means that if just 36 of these individuals (or 0.33 percent from the whole group) choose to visit the space hotel, the module would make money.”
Call us crazy, but that sounds a bit pie in the sky.
However, Russia’s not alone in trying to send humans into space. Its competitors include Elon Musk, who announced that he’s planning on sending two private citizens on a flight around the moon in 2018, and Virgin Galactic, which is reportedly on track to begin commercial passenger spaceflights by the end of this year, after the deadly crash of SpaceShipTwo in 2014. (If you’re thinking about plunking down big bucks for the Virgin flight, you may want to read up on what it really entails. According to Vanity Fair’s William Langewiesche, the world’s journalist of record on aviation, it may not be all it’s cracked up to be.)
Regardless, it appears as though the space race is officially back on.
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