Has the holiday chaos got you thinking about the perfect winter getaway? Before long the trip of your dreams might just be thousands of miles above you.
Ah, the holidays. There’s nothing like scuffling at 6 a.m. with bleary-eyed shoppers over the last Nintendo Wii, or watching the kids wail as they sit on Santa’s lap, or spending some “quality” time with the in-laws for even the most spirited of souls to start dreaming of another place – preferably one that’s far, far, far away.
Like outer-space faraway.
Well cheer up, yuletide wipeouts. The day is fast-approaching when we can all spend a little post-holiday R&R in a hotel that’s, literally, out of this world.
Seriously. With almost no fanfare, the wealthy owner of a Las Vegas-based hotel chain is fast expanding his business into space. He’s already launching experimental inflatable hotel modules – and making money out of the deal without even booking his first zero-G guest.
Who’s this modern-day Willy Wonka? Bob Bigelow, the 60-year-old owner of the Budget Suites of America hotel chain and a reclusive innovator who exhibits almost a childish glee. He can afford to: Budget Suites pays the bills and then some, enabling Bigelow to spend $500 million on a pet project called Bigelow Aerospace. The venture’s slogan is “Getting you excited again about space.”
An $8 million escape to space
Believe me, there’s more than a whiff of 1969-style enthusiasm here.
This summer, a Russian rocket launched carrying an inflatable space habitat. Called Genesis-1, it’s essentially a retooled NASA design for which Bigelow acquired the patents in 2001. Bigelow then spent $75 million and years cutting through red tape before getting the greenlight to launch objects into orbit via Russia. Read the rest of this entry »