OK, so it’s only for snapshots and objects no larger than a golf ball, but Las Vegas real-estate developer Robert Bigelow is taking reservations for the first space-travel program for the masses. Late next month, Bigelow plans to launch a 15-foot inflatable spacecraft from Russia on a converted intercontinental ballistic missile. A sort of flying attic, the craft will carry more than 4,000 photographs, 500 objets d’art and other mementos contributed by members of the public.

The price per photo or item: $295. Time in orbit: five years, give or take, until the spacecraft eventually burns up in the atmosphere. During that period, customers can log on to Bigelow’s Web site ( and watch live camera views of the Earth slowly turning 342 miles below the craft. They’ll also get a glimpse of the module’s pressurized interior, in which their tchotchke of choice will drift around with other keepsakes.

The spacecraft, Genesis II, will join its non-commercial twin, Genesis I, which launched into space in July. Both crafts are one-third-scale test versions
of a full-size space station that Bigelow hopes to launch by 2012 [see “The Five-Billion-Star Hotel,” March 2005]. As you might expect, a stay in the larger ship would cost a bit more than in the pint-size version: $7.9 million for a week.