Just as a Russian company announced its big idea to build an orbiting hotel 217 miles above earth, a Russian Progress M-12M cargo ship has crashed into the Altai Republic failing to reach orbit.
The accident took place just five minutes after it was launched from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan on Wednesday due to a failure of the rocket's upper stage motor. It was expected to reach a near-Earth orbit around 9 minutes after launch.
Meanwhile, Orbital Technologies plans to build a hotel in space with seven rooms costing $1 million for a five-day stay including lunar sightseeing flights, Reuters reported.
Russian companies last week at the country's premiere air show at Zhukovsky said the race was on to build a new craft that would take people into space following the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle program.
During the show, Orbital Technologies said its plans to launch the space hotel by 2016. Although the hotel comes with exclusivity and a hefty price tag it won't be luxurious. Guests will eat space food, take sponge baths and use vacuum toilets.
Space tourism is a real and fast-growing business, said Sergei Kostenko, head of Russia's Orbital Technologies, at the MAKS air show. Whoever builds the first new spaceship now will reap big dividends.
Meanwhile, Russia's Energia Corp. is considering taking enthusiastic space tourists to the Moon onboard its Soyuz Spaceship.
We are holding initial negotiations (with Space Adventures) on the commercial flight around the moon, Energia President Vitaly Lopota told Interfax-AVN. The crew makeup, partners and project budget are on the agenda.
A well-known billionaire is rumored to have already purchased one ticket for the exhibition for $150 million.
According to Reuters, foreign experts have doubts about Russian companies being able to achieve their ambitious goals because they lack funding from Russian officials. It would be hard to rival U.S private firms now competing for contracts with NASA, experts said.
Funding is much higher for the U.S space programme, Reuters reports and NASA is expected to forge ahead with building a new generation of crafts capable of traveling to deep space.
According to Alexander Derechin, deputy chief designer for Russia's partly state-owned space contractor RKK Energia, Russia faces tough competition with U.S companies such as Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp.