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Honeymooning in zero gravity

Space hotel graphic

Japanese plan hotel in space

May 25, 1997
Web posted at: 5:23 p.m. EDT (2123 GMT)

From CNN Correspondent May Lee

TOKYO -- As Capt. James T. Kirk of Starship Enterprise fame once said: Space is the final frontier.

Well, not quite. So far, this frontier has already seen men on the moon, U.S. space shuttles docking at a Russian space station, and Russians and Americans spacewalking side by side.

So what's next? How about a space vacation to really get away from it all?

The Japanese construction giant Shimizu plans to open a space hotel by the year 2020. According to Shimizu plans, tourists will blast off and travel 450 kilometers (279 miles) to the 64-room hotel, from where they will enjoy the most spectacular view of planet Earth.

Shimizu's space hotel would spin sedately, producing moderate centrifugal force to simulate the Earth's gravity. However, the company says that the more demanding tourist will be able to go to certain areas of the hotel where there would be zero gravity, for that special "spacewalk feel."

Space graphic

But if floating in space is not your idea of a perfect vacation, maybe a trip to Mars will do the trick.

Japan's Obayashi Corp., which so far has done all its building in Tokyo, is now drawing up plans to build a colony on the red planet by 2061. As Obayashi's Chief Research engineer, Yoji Ishikawa, puts it: "We immigrate, then we permanently live there. We raise kids there, then we make the planet our home."

There is, of course, the cost factor. Adventures in space are not likely to be very affordable. But scientists say the falling cost of putting payloads into space could bring down the price -- at least somewhat.

"The problem all along has been that space flight is tremendously expensive and there just are not that many people who are prepared to spend $100 million for a trip into space all on their own," says John Pike of the Federation of American Scientists. "On the other hand, NASA, the U.S. Air Force, and other countries around the world have a lot of ideas for how to bring the cost of space flight down and at least some people are optimistic that within the next decade or two, if you are prepared to mortgage the house, you might be able to become an astronaut and fly into space," Pike said.

So, if one believes the experts, a honeymoon over Earth may be possible within the next few decades, even though it is likely that it will cost the moon to get there.


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