Lost in Space

Andrei Marks · August 12, 2007

From the 2007-08-12 print of the Oriental Morning Post (东方早报), on page 9. In the International section. I branched out a little because there were a couple of space articles I thought were more interesting. There was another one on the North Pole affair again but I’m not very excited by that. This piece’s not quite America-related, it’s about a company planning a space hotel! Written by Zheng Jie.

2012, We’ll Stay in the “Milky Way Suite”

-The world’s first space hotel to open for business; you can enjoy 80 minutes of space travel; $4,000,000—The “Milky Way Suite” will be the Milky Way Galaxy’s most expensive hotel, the price for a three day stay is US$4 million.

The “Milky Way Suite”, the world’s first space hotel, plans to open for business, and hotel guests will be able to enjoy the service of 80 minutes of space travel.

- US$4,000,000, Three Days

The architect in charge of design, from Barcelona, Spain, has expressed that the “Milky Way Suite” will be the Milky Way Galaxy’s most expensive hotel, with the price of a three day stay set at US$4 million. Within that time, guests will be able to enjoy the sunrise 15 times a day, and in their suites they will be able to climb the walls of their streamlined rooms like Spiderman.

Xavier Claramunt, the company’s head inspector in charge of operations, has put all his effort into recruiting elements for the design of the “Milky Way Suite” that will add luster to this risky dream. The hotel will have a total of 22 rooms, which includes three bedrooms. The interiors will not contain any straight lines, corners, or windows, and the size of every room is to be determined to fit exactly into the rocket that will blast them into space. This is the world’s first project of the sort, preceded only by Robert Bigelow’s space hotel. Other space capsules will be separately put to use as bars, cafeterias, and reception rooms.

“The zero gravity bathroom was the biggest challenge,” said Claramunt, “Figuring out how to provide for the guests’ more private activities is not an easy thing.” But they have already solved the problem of showering in a weightless environment–the guests will enter a shower room in which water globules will float from all sides.

If the guests don’t like the scenery outside of the portholes, they will be able to participate in scientific experiments on space travel.

-40,000 people Can Afford to Stay

While formerly working as an aerospace engineer, the “Milky Way Suite” was only an amateur hobby for Claramunt, until a space enthusiast wanted to invest US$3 billion in creating this hotel, turning this science fiction novel fantasy into reality. Afterwards, an American company devoted to the development of Mars came on board, and turned the “Milky Way Suite” into the first step of its prospective goals to be realized. There are currently investors from Japan, America, and the United Arab Emirates holding negotiations.

Claramunt is reticent to discuss the identities of the generous supporters behind him, but when he’s talking about his expected guests he’s very frank. “We estimate that there are 40,000 people in the world who can afford to stay in this hotel. Whether or not they are willing to spend the money to fly into space, we don’t know,” he said.

Spending US$4 million for a single vacation certainly seems a little extravagent, but insiders in the up and coming space tourism industry believe that the process of turning hotel management towards the idea is a slow one, because people feel that the costs of space travel aren’t going to decrease very quickly.

The “Milky Way Suite” indicates that the price doesn’t just include the fee for three evenings in space; guests will also carry out 8 weeks of 007-style training at a space camp on a tropical island.

“Going into space can be followed by a feeling of fright,” Claramunt said, “So while the guests are on the space station, the transport rocket will remain fixed to the space hotel so that they will feel they will be able to return home.”

With today’s intense awareness of global climate change, the “Milky Way Suite” still hasn’t planned on how to remedy the pollution created by rockets used to carry only 6 people into space. “However,” said Claramunt, “We hope that after the guests see the planet from such a great distance, it will produce a desire in them to protect and be concerned for our planet.”

There’s also a small picture depicting an artist’s rendition of the space hotel, with the caption:
-Rooms will fit into the rockets that take them into space.

Translator’s Notes:
- The “Milky Way Suite” is what I translated the name as, but it’s actually called “Galactic Suite”. In Chinese it appears as if there isn’t really any distinguishing between the two words.
- The enjoying “80 minutes of space travel” appears to actually mean orbiting the earth every 80 minutes, I don’t know why that got lost in translation.
- I also don’t know why the author says this Spanish project is the first of its type and then says Bigelow’s project was first. Maybe I’m missing something. Bigelow is an American at the head of a different aerospace company interested in the same sort of idea.
- I think the Chinese reaction to this is that it’s really crazy. First off there is the four million dollars which is an option for the smallest percentage of the smallest percentage of the Chinese, and there is that ominous ending about potential pollution. That is something I do feel the government does try and promote an awareness of, at least through official and propaganda channels. Whether or not the average person is aware of extent of China’s environmental crisis, I don’t know. Haha, whether or not the average world citizen is aware of the earth’s environmental crisis, I also don’t know.

Comments/corrections welcome.

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