MOSCOW: Russia is making a return into the space tourism industry with the development of a hotel module on the International Space Station over the next few years, according to a Tech Times report.
The Roscosmos State Corporation has started reviewing a proposal for a 20-ton module measuring 15.5 meters in length. It will deliver over 90 cubic meters of pressurised space divided into four cabins, two hygiene and medical stations, and a lounge.
Each sleeping quarter has been designed with a nine-inch porthole, while the lounge area will have a larger 16-inch window. WiFi, gym equipment, and photowalks facilitated by a cosmonaut are among the amenities and services planned for guests.
A one to two week-trip to the Earth’s lower orbit is estimated to cost $40 million for each person. An additional $20 million will be charged for the photo walk or a month-long accommodation.
The hotel module, dubbed NEM-2, will be created by RKK Energia which is known for launching the space tourism business during the 1990s. It leased the Mir Space Station to a private company and also flew guests to the ISS using the Space Shuttle.
However, it stopped accommodating tourists in recent years due to the lack of orbital transportation. The Soyuz, which is Russia’s only means of space travel after the Space Shuttle’s retirement in 2011, has been busy serving NASA’s space mission under the ISS partnership. A report says it will become available in two years after America’s contractors release their own spacecraft.
The contractor is currently working on the NEM’s first model which will serve the ISS as a science laboratory and power-supply station. It shares the same external design as NEM-2.
Building the module will cost Russia an estimated $279 to 446 million. To recover the state’s investment within seven years, RKK Energia proposes to fly at least two guests with an accompanying cosmonaut on three Soyuz flights annually.
Moreover, it aims to attract a dozen tourists who can pay $4 million upfront to fund the module’s development and another $12.6 million in a couple of years. The remaining amount of $10.8 million will be paid during the time of launching.
This strategy is similar to Virgin Galactic’s investment model to launch its space tourism business. SpaceX also used the same method. It announced in February 2017 that two guests, traveling on a private flight to the moon by 2018, have already made a “significant” down payment.
Space tourism has long been encouraged by astronauts and NASA. In 2016, the American space agency released a set of posters that promoted space exploration.