Russians plan Hotel in the Heavens - 320km away

Russian engineers have announced the ultimate get-away-from-it-all holiday, revealing plans to put a hotel into orbit 320km above Earth by 2016.

The four-room Hotel in the Heavens would house up to seven guests who would be able to cavort in zero-gravity while watching as our planet turns.

Space tourists would have to pay 500,000 GBP ($974,000) to travel on a Soyuz rocket to get to the hotel before stumping up a further 100,000 GBP for a five-day stay.

"The hotel will be aimed at wealthy individuals and people working for private companies who want to do research in space," said Sergei Kostenko, chief executive of Orbital Technologies, which will construct the orbiting guest house.

"A hotel should be comfortable, and this one will be."

The news that Russia plans to launch a hotel into outer space is the latest example in a series of extreme holidaymaking projects. As the world accumulates more and more billionaires, entrepreneurs are seeking newer and more demanding ways to provide them with the ultimate in high-tech thrills.

Apart from space hotels, which have also been touted recently by US and European aerospace companies, proposals to fly thrill-seekers on rocket flights to the edge of space are now being completed by Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic as well as by US companies such as Space Adventures, Armadillo Aerospace and XCOR Aerospace.

As well, billionaires may soon be able to buy their own artificial countries - built in international waters on oil rig-type platforms - where they can indulge in their dictatorial fantasies. Or they could buy high-performance submarines that will allow them to dive and explore the deepest parts of oceans.

But in the space hotels, hedonism will be limited. Orbital Technologies restrict guests to iced tea and fruit juices for their liquid intake.

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