Moscow-based company Orbital Technologies has said it will build an orbiting hotel in space by 2015-2016.
The project will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, Orbital Tehcnologies' CEO Sergei Kostenko said Wednesday without disclosing a figure. "Russian and US investors have already been found," he added.
Individuals, professionals and explorers interested in implementing their own research programmes are expected to be the first clients of the tourist hub, Kostenko said.
The Space Adventurers Company, the longstanding partner of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) in selecting clients for space tours, is expected to select clients for the new hotel.
So far, several super-rich businesspeople have been the only space tourists, travelling into space with professional cosmonauts, but if the project is implemented the space tourism market is likely to develop rapidly.
The tourist hub will not become a rival to the International Space Station (ISS) as they are designed to serve different aims, Kostenko said. "The ISS was designed to carry out scientific and research work at the request of the government. We plan to create a space hotel."
In comparison with the ISS, the space hotel will be much more comfortable. "The tourist hub will not resemble the International Space Station: it will be comfortable inside, and tourists will view the Earth through large portholes," Kostenko said. The hub will be designed to accommodate seven people, he added.
The project will be implemented in cooperation with the state-controlled RKK Energia company and Roscosmos.