Japan’s Shimizu Corporation is making plans for the day that there are regular flights into space, not by astronauts, but by tourists and sightseers. Shimizu’s space project office prepared the plan for a $28 billion space hotel with the technical guidance of Bell & Trotti of the  United States.

It is not the first proposal of its kind. Since the first days of space exploration, people have speculated about the possibility of cosmic pleasure trips. In 1967, the founder of the Hilton hotel chain, Barron Hilton, told the American Astronautical Society that he hoped to see the first orbital Hilton in his lifetime.


 In spite of the advances in technology, Japan’s National Space Development Agency is doubtful about the future of space travel. Shimizu, however, is optimistic and is even planning to put a new generation of space planes into operation around the year 2010 to start commercial space travel and tourism.  Space planes will replace the current generation of spacecraft.


Not only will they be able to take off and land like jets, but they will also have the power to leave the atmosphere altogether. The United States, France, Britain, Germany, Japan and the Soviet Union are all planning hypersonic space planes.  There are common features to the designs of space planes; they will use a single booster stage to reach their orbit. They will be totally re-usable and will be propelled to hypersonic speeds by revolutionary engines that can take in oxygen from the atmosphere or on-board supplies.


Current generation spacecraft are limited by the vast amount  of fuel. It takes about five tonnes of fuel to put a spacecraft into orbit. But by using a rocket motor that can take in oxygen from the atmosphere, the burden of liquid oxygen can be cut down to the amount that is required when the air becomes too rare . A cost effective and safe aero-spaceplane will mark a major turning  point for the space industry and the birth of space-tourism.

Then the first destination for the rich, the fashionable and the adventurous will be the space hotel, a space station in low earth orbit. As the aero-spaceplane closes in on Tokyo Orbital International, passengers will witness a hotel that looks quite unlike any on Earth because the  need to build it piece by piece – by assembling a series of prefabricated modules – makes it an odd-shaped structure. Space tourism will not be cheap – estimates of the cost range from tens of thousands to millions of dollars, depending on the trip, timescale and available technology.


For instance, technical consultant  David Ashford and Dr. Patrick Collins of Imperial College estimate that the cost per seat could fall from $4 million in the space shuttle to $ 10,000 in a’spacebus’. As for whether space-tourism will occur at all, we can draw from the example of air travel. In the past 60 years, the number of people  who crossed the Atlantic has grown from a handful of people to some 25 million.

Once the new generation of space vehicles under development take to the skies, the prospect of commercial space flights within the next 60 years seems inevitable.




A. What do the following refer to?
1. ‘they’ (line 16):
2. ‘any’ (line 34):
B. Mark the best choice.

1. Shimizu Corporation .

a) is the first to propose a hotel in space

b) is more optimistic about space travel than the Japanese National Space Development Agency

c) is able to plan a space hotel without assistance

d) believes that cosmic pleasure trips will be possible in this century


2. The new generation of spacecraft will .

a) have to stay within the earth’s atmosphere

b) be designed by many countries working together

c) have to carry large amounts of fuel

d) be able to get oxygen from the atmosphere



C. Mark the statements as True (T) or False (F).

1. The space hotel will look odd since it will have to be made up of a series of prefabricated modules.
2. One of the factors which will determine the cost of space tourism will be the available technology.
3. It will be cheaper to travel by spacebus than by space shuttle.
4. Within the next 60 years 25 million people will have made space flights.

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