Ride a Maglev Rocket to Space Hotel in 2012


The space tourism company Galactic Suite already has 38 reservations made by tourists who, the company says, in 2012 will travel on board a magnetically levitated spacecraft to an orbiting luxury hotel, complete with a floating spa, pictured here. The trip, which costs 3 million Euros, will provide four days in orbit 450 kilometers above the earth and includes 18 weeks of training on a Caribbean island for the tourists to prepare for their spaceflight. The Galactic Suite Spaceport is being built on the island and features the first maglev rocket where the spacecraft will accelerate to speeds up to 1,000 km/h (620 mph) in 10 seconds and lift off from a vertical runway.

Galactic Suite Spaceport.  Credit:  Galactic Suite
Galactic Suite Spaceport. Credit: Galactic Suite

After reaching approximately the speed of sound, the spaceship will detach from its maglev carrier and accelerator, and will ascend to orbit using rocket or air-breathing engines. The maglev accelerator will then brake to a stop and return to its starting point for the next launch. The launch track will be about 3 kilometers long.

According to Xavier Claramunt and Marsal Gifra, founders of Galactic Suite, “Maglev launch assist technology will enable space tourists to travel to our space resorts in orbit on a commercial basis. The most expensive part of any space travel to low-Earth orbit is the first few seconds – getting off the ground. This technology is cost competitive with other forms of space transportation, environmentally friendly and inherently safe”.

The stay at the hotel will “offer a mixed programme of reflection and exercise to seize the unique physical conditions encountered in space,” said Claramunt.

One of the most innovative experiences that tourists can experience is the bathroom in zero gravity. Galactic Suite has developed the space spa. Inside the spa, tourists can float with 20 liters of water bubbles. According to Galactic Suite materials, “The tourist, already trained to avoid the effects of water in a state of weightlessness, can play with the bubble dividing it into thousands of bubbles in a never-ending game. In addition, the transparent sphere may be shared with other guests.”

Galactic Suite is a private space tourism company, founded in Barcelona in 2006. The company hopes to make space tourism available to the general public and “will combine an intensive program of training astronauts to relax with a programme of activities on a tropical island as a process preparation to space travel.”

Source: Galactic Suite press release

32 Replies to “Ride a Maglev Rocket to Space Hotel in 2012”

  1. I was thinking that 1000km/h in 10 seconds sounded a bit extreme, but it works out to about 2.8g, which is pretty reasonable. I’m pretty skeptical about their ability to get the entire system up and running in only 4 years, however. It does sound like fun, but the time-line seems a bit unrealistic.

  2. That is frakking cool. It’s good to see there are companies out there with that kind of ambition. I do wonder, though, how you’re supposed to enjoy the space hotel when you’re a pink paste plastered against the back of your seat.

  3. Sounds like alot of promises in one sales pitch.

    My question would be how does the supersonic maglev (which is fast, but not fast enough to put something in orbit by itself) play a part in orbiting cargo?
    If you had an orbit capable rocket capable of being flung around like this, wouldn’t it be cheaper and just as beneficial to air launch the system?

    At least it saves the cost of a rail.

  4. It’s kind of smells a little, to me. Too many promises – if it were that easy, NASA, ESA, JAXA, et al would be doing it already.

  5. Sphere of water?
    Now Blitzball in Final Fantasy X makes sense.

    Seriously though, if they can actually get this up and running by 2012, it will be fantastic.
    Hell, even if they can get it up by 2020, it will still be awesome.
    Just before 2029, or 203..4..8? Something like that.
    Apophis is coming to enslave (read: kill) us. :O

    Just wondering though, is the actual space craft the hotel?
    Or are they actually hoping to launch and assemble something by 2012?

  6. I don’t think there is any doubting that the time line is ambitious, but the vision is superb, and there is nothing like bucket loads of money to make something happen. ( which may be why JAXA, NASA, ESA, et al aren’t doing it ? )

  7. I have only one question. What are these Galactic Suite people and their clientele smoking?

  8. “Less than 20 seconds”, the press release actually says, I don’t see where the 10 seconds figure came from.

    Maxwell: The Maglev rail, according to the brochure, does NOT accelerate the craft to supersonic speed. That’ll be the first rocket stage.

    The “hotel” is a basic, simplified modular space station.

    It looks very feasible to me – the time scale may be too ambitious. We’ll see. If they manage to do it, to g et even just the launch vehicle, Maglev rail and rockets ready, they might have a customer straight away: NASA…..

    That they won’t reveal the name and location of the island bothers me a bit.

  9. I remember when these guys first appeared, i looked at their website and everything i could find online. Something just didn’t ad up. I came to the conclusion it was some sort of fakery or a scam. Now i have no real basis for that, but it all just seemed to be full of BS. As in, everything they were claiming was crap, and there was a lot of important info i couldn’t find. I can’t really remember the specifics, but it was the thought i had after reading up about it.
    I have no read into the details of this current announcement, I’m curious as to whether my thoughts will be changed or remain the same.

  10. Grinspoon: perhaps not ALL BS, but definitely a generous layer of it, and a lot of secrecy.

    Their budgeting, imo, is way off. It’s been done many times before: Find investors, take their money, then tell them you need twice or three times as much… and they’ll pay, or else, they’ll have to say “goodbye” to the multi-millions they have already invested.

  11. “The company hopes to make space tourism available to the general public”

    Let me paraphrase: “The company hopes to make space tourism available to the rich, who have 3 million dollar to spend on vacation.”

    I agree that the time scale sounds somewhat unrealistic. Anyway, getting normal people up to space is a good idea and with time it will become cheaper and more affordable.

  12. If they plan on launching in 2012 with passengers, then I assume they will need at least 3 or more dummy payload shots which will have to occur at least a year earlier to get any approvals they need. All this boils down to the fact that some where right now there is an actual craft ready to go to carry up at least the cargo portion of what they will need.

    Yeah right.

    Who was on the technical team for this design? Air breathing engines, scram jets and a high energy kick stage for orbital insertion along with the approach and docking technology. Only a few nations have even developed this level of technology and some of it is still very preliminary.

    If this is true, it will rock the world and all of the nations space bodies wil look like cash wasting morons.

  13. “The company hopes to make space tourism available to the general public”

    Well, the general public can tremendously benefit from this company. A lot of new jobs will emerge from this enterprise. And you know that the more people are employed in the spaceflight related market segment, the less can politics neglect it.

    The point is not that I don’t have the money to spend my niece a $3E6-trip, but that she can make a living in an exciting expanding industry.

  14. The stay at the hotel will “offer a mixed programme of reflection and exercise to seize the unique physical conditions encountered in space,” said Claramunt.

    Greetings and thank you for purchasing your room through Galactic Suite. Your itinerary begins with the Galactic Isolation Tank in zero gravity, where you will enjoy an extended period of reflection over the five trillion dollars you just spent on your hotel room. We will include some self-help recordings by Dr. Phil to encourage you toward thinking clearly about the fact that you’re in debt up to your eyeballs. After the reality of your situation has sunk in (that is to say, after you are sufficiently convinced that you, your children and your grandchildren will be our indentured servants), we will treat you to a five-minute stationary bike ride in zero gravity. The bike is an artifact that was found in a NASA closet that read,”spare Skylab equipment.” You will then be escorted to your room. And we must remind you that your potential heightened sense of melancholy, fear and loathing that you may achieve after paying our hotel bill is not grounds for rude, disorderly or controversial behavior. If you are found to be in violation of these rules, you will be promptly jettisoned into the vacuum of space without advance notice. Thank you for choosing Galactic Suite. A complimentarly anit-depressant capsule has been placed on your pillow for your cruising pleasure.

  15. 🙂 David R., of course people can spend the same money only once. Either on a hundred trips one your cruise liners or once in one of the Galactic Suite hotels. Space sickness and sea sickness are supposed to be equipollent.

  16. I read some sci fi like this, total bollocks was the tale of levitation, but told as true folk beleived it till another scientist eventually made one. Maybe this is like that?

    Space ship one has the idea, launch from up high thus no need for a stage one, as it is a reusuable airplane.

    Maybe the new spaceport is to be seen on Google Earth?

    I dont like the look of the jump at the end, it seems very sharp, surly should be some sort of curve ski jump sort of thing?

    Personally I would rather go on Space Ship 2.(Virgin)

  17. Maglev rocket launch vehicle?
    Orbiting Hotel?

    Somebody’s holding back a lot of information.

    If they do it, I’ll be impressed.

  18. I say it’s a scam.

    Let’s look at some numbers. According to the Galactic Suite press release (Barcelona, August 2008) the rocket reaches 1000 km/h in less than 20 seconds. That is at least a modest 1.4 g’s over a distance of a 2.8 km. The press release claims the Maglev track will be 3 miles ( 4.8 km) long. But this may be a typo, or a large margin for error. So far so good.

    The problem is the motion starts out horizontal, then goes vertical. It changes direction. The Galactic Suite Spaceport illustration shows a very tight curve. With fighter jets it’s the turns, not the engine thrust, that create those high g forces.

    So let’s assume a 0.1 km radius curve taking going from horizontal to vertical. Also assume the rocket has reached 80 percent of liftoff speed, 800 km/h, at the bottom of the curve. Finally, for simplification, let’s assume a constant speed within the turn. That would make for an acceleration in the curve of 50 g’s for 0.7 seconds. I’m no physiologist, but I’m sure this would kill. For a 0.5 km radius it’s 10 g’s for 3.5 seconds. This can cause a blackout. For 1 km it’s 5 g’s for 7 seconds. In comparison, a Soyuz capsule reaches 4.5 g’s in a normal decent, ignoring the momentary impact forces of touchdown (1).

    If my understanding of Galactic Suite’s proposed space launch system is wrong or my assumed numbers are off that is because of a lack of hard information. The three page press release only devotes two paragraphs to the launch system. And the Galactic Suite web site crashed my browser. I see only flashy graphics and a basic high school understanding of physics. This is not enough for a space tourism business.

    (1) From Dr. Charles Simonyi’s blog entry on centrifuge training at Star City, at his website charlesinspace.com.

  19. Some other math…orbital velocity for low earth orbit is in the area of 7 km/s. 1000 km/h is only 278 m/s. A good bit less than the speed of sound, and deep in the atmosphere where much of it will be lost to drag. And ignoring that, the maglev launcher only gives 4% at best of the required velocity to reach orbit. So the vehicle has to be big enough to practically get to orbit on its own, yet small enough for the launcher to handle, and with a razor-thin margin for the extra 278 m/s to be meaningful.

    It’s at the right part of the trip…it’s early on, when fuel tanks are full, that the spacecraft takes the most fuel to accelerate. But fuel’s not actually the biggest cost in a launch, it’s the vehicle itself, the launch site, all the engineers and technicians going over the equipment, and all the paperwork. I would be very surprised if a subsonic maglev launch proved worthwhile. And they go from there to hit pretty much every other unproven launch concept.

  20. NASA and other national space agencies aren’t doing this because they aren’t commercial enterprises. For instance, NASA is forbidden to do anything like this.

    Fireball XL5 used a rocket sled, not maglev.

    Yeah, 2012 seems a wee bit ambitious. I’d love for it to turn out to be true, of course, but I won’t be holding my breath.

Comments are closed.