Frisky Vacations in Space

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The key to the project is the large, orange external fuel tanks NASA uses to carry its shuttles into orbit. Instead of letting them burn up in the atmosphere, as they usually do after launch, Meyers plans to save them, link a bunch together, and form a giant wheel — similar to the space station in 2001 — where 500 people will work and vacation.

The station would orbit about 300 miles above the Earth, high enough to enjoy the view without serious radiation dangers or the threat of crashing into a satellite.

"In the first wave of travelers, you will see adventurers and people for whom money is no object," Meyers says. "The same people who look at Mount Everest and say 'Been there, done that' need a new thrill — and here it is."

Each space shuttle fuel tank is as large as a jumbo jet. Meyers envisions vacations at this floating hotel, complete with restaurants, health clubs and game rooms. (Don't worry about the smell of these tanks, the liquid oxygen and hydrogen fuel is odorless.) By 2012, he projects that a week at Space Island will cost about $12,000, allowing a slew of folks to see the heavens.

That might be quite a reach, considering it costs NASA an estimated $10,000 for each pound it launches into orbit. And Meyers still has to raise about $2 billion annually over the next few years to finance his dream. But he believes in his project. Unveiling new details of his project for the first time in Rochester will be a good test of what the science and business community thinks.

"Think of what we do today that was impossible 20 years ago," he says. "I think you have your answers."

Sex in Space

It doesn't take a Madison Avenue genius to tell you that sex sells, and folks who have an eye on tourism in space are sure that weightless whoopee will be one strong motivator to commercialize the galaxy.

"Hasn't everyone fantasized about it?" says Kustenmacher. "Imagine nothing but the touch of your sweetheart. No bed, no breeze, just floating in a cozy cabin. That's a freedom anyone would want."