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Bigelow Space Hotel – Reservations Coming Soon!

Robert Bigelow - Credit: Jared McMillen

Back in 2009, Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte fired up the imaginations of would-be astronauts the world round when he paid an estimated $35 million dollars to spend 12 days aboard the International Space Station How many of us who are too large, too small or too out of physical shape to be a space traveller cheered when a rather “ordinary” human took place in space? Well, get in line for the next adventure… because just a mere $28,750,000 might buy you a ticket for a 30-day stay in Earth orbit.

Away from the glitz of Las Vegas, real estate developer Robert Bigelow is making use of the quiet Mojave Desert setting to solidify plans which border on the down-right incredible. His Bigelow Aerospace company owns 50 acres of barren land with buildings that aren’t much different than neighboring contractors – with the exception of high security. So why would these unassuming structures need armed security guards with futuristic alien patches on their uniforms?

Because he’s building the first space hotel.

These high-tech, low-cost inflatable space stations may very well be our future. As Bigelow believes, we’ll need a place to stay if we’re to further our studies in space – so why not in affordable accommodations? Bigelow has amassed his terrestrial wealth over his lifetime by providing rooms here, and the last 15 years have seen him invest approximately $210 million of his own money towards futuristic plans. In the long run, he’s willing to put forward up to $500 million to see his project through. His goal is to prove that space is a safe place for those willing to make the jump.

“We have a way of building stations that are far less expensive, far more safe and can be built more quickly,” says Bigelow. “And the timing is right.”

According the the entrepreneur, he’s engaging more than a dozen nations and has “memorandums of understanding” from countries including Japan, the Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden, Australia and the United Kingdom. In February NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver visited Bigelow Aerospace’s plant in North Las Vegas, and the agency is currently evaluating the company’s expandable modules for use as expansions to the International Space Station.

While it would be easy to write off such grand schemes as another of Bigelow’s “big” adventures, these inflatable space habitats are founded in solid technology. Bigelow’s prototypes have been orbiting Earth since 2006. His expansion of the desert plant will provide at least double the amount of work space, allowing him to construct a a scale model of the Sundancer, the first habitat he plans to launch into space. And when that’s done, he’ll build a model of its big brother, the BA330: At 11,600 cubic feet, it has nearly as much volume as the entire ISS!

When can we expect to book a room with a real view? Bigelow expects to have a fully functioning station in orbit by 2016 and to begin charging rent for it. While a little less than a million dollars a night isn’t going to exactly threaten Super 8 rates, one thing we can look forward to is knowing exactly what lights they’ll leave on…

Original Story Source: Forbes.

About 

Tammy is a professional astronomy author, President Emeritus of Warren Rupp Observatory and retired Astronomical League Executive Secretary. She’s received a vast number of astronomy achievement and observing awards, including the Great Lakes Astronomy Achievement Award, RG Wright Service Award and the first woman astronomer to achieve Comet Hunter's Gold Status.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Shawna Graham June 12, 2011, 4:36 PM

    just like on firefly space and Technology will be for the supper rich

    • Sam S June 12, 2011, 5:48 PM

      Or for that matter, air travel in the first half of the 20th century. But look how that turned out.

      • Anonymous June 12, 2011, 7:16 PM

        There is not quite the sort of Moore’s law with space travel as these is with microprocessors. If there is such a rule in operation the 1/e time is pretty long. $28.5meg is a lot of money, and few of us will cough that up.

        LC

        • Anonymous June 12, 2011, 8:28 PM

          The demand for more and more capable microprocessors was there from the beginning, spurring research to do better still, against one’s competitors.

          The demand for cheaper human access to low Earth orbit (for tourism, or anything else…the vehicle itself doesn’t care) isn’t in a comparable state as yet, but it’s creeping closer, and IMHO, will get to the ‘knee’ of the demand curve before very long…

          And though his inflatables are not meant only for ‘hotel’ use (or even primarily so…the inflatable doesn’t care what’s being done inside it, either), Bigelow seems to anticipate a relatively near-term increase in demand for his products as well, and the current expansion of his manufacturing facility supports that anticipation…

          • Zachary Singer-Englar June 14, 2011, 3:05 AM

            consider the cost of getting people and supplies to and from these hotels, it’ll be expensive until we have a breakthrough in propulsion and rocketry.

        • Anonymous June 13, 2011, 2:23 AM

          LC, is your name on the short list yet?

          • HeadAroundU June 13, 2011, 12:48 PM

            Not yet, but he is an optimist by nature. :D

      • Scott Nichols June 12, 2011, 7:23 PM

        As with any (and all) technology, initial offerings are super expensive, very limited and frankly, inefficient. Once a technology is stabilized (and standardized) it rapidly gets cheaper to create and use. Air travel is an EXCELLENT example of that as well as silicon chips. Will we see it affordable in our lifetime? No.

      • Jeffrey Scott Boerst June 13, 2011, 3:02 PM

        Ya, computers used to be really spendy as well… all new tech does that. Give supply and demand a chance to catch up. Once there’s a ton up there, it will inevitably be affordable to most

    • Jeffrey Scott Boerst June 13, 2011, 3:00 PM

      I wonder what kind of tech will be available to the brunch rich..? As long as it has a 19th century American West theme, I’m in.

    • Jeffrey Scott Boerst June 13, 2011, 3:00 PM

      I wonder what kind of tech will be available to the brunch rich..? As long as it has a 19th century American West theme, I’m in.

  • x x June 13, 2011, 6:57 AM

    Correction, the ISS is nearly 900 cubic meters, not feet, so the BA330 isn’t close. Space Station Alpha in its entirety (with 2 Sundancers), though, should be close. That’s pretty impressive in it’s own right, especially given it will only take 4 launches! Of course it all hinges on developing a way to get there, but it’s shaping up to be an exciting decade.

  • Slugsie June 13, 2011, 3:19 PM

    Whilst on the whole I consider this to be pretty cool, I do have to wonder – What’s the point? From a tourism point of view I don’t really see the point of going to LEO for 30 days and living inside a tube (balloon, bubble, whatever). I mean, what do you do? OK, you can float around, and look out the window. For 30 days? It’s not like you can pop out for a quick space walk to the next space station over. Your stuck in a very confined place. I suspect that most people would get bored quite quickly. And the sort of person that can drop $30M on something like this is someone who is probably used to being quite busy too.

    Until we can have holidays on other planets/moons, or we have huge space stations (think the torus designs from 2001 etc) I think that Virgin Galactic is the better choice, although they should extend the flights to maybe 24 hours or so.

    For scientific research etc this is very cool. Anything that increases our options and reduces the costs is a good thing.

    • Torbjörn Larsson June 13, 2011, 9:57 PM

      Actually most of what you say seems rejected by anecdote, if not data:

      – Astronauts say it is the high point of their life.
      – Astronauts say they don’t get bored.

      I.e. 30 days may be a good idea.

      – Astronauts hint that you have to get 5-10 minutes alone and “fix” the experience combined with a mnemonic device so you can recall it.

      I.e. you don’t have to stay 30 days. (But you want to.)

      – Virgin Galactic will provide suborbital jumps of a few minutes duration.

      I.e. 24 hours? Forget it! =D

      • Slugsie June 14, 2011, 11:04 AM

        Whilst I accept what you say about astronauts, there is one difference. They are professionals who are there to do work, the view and experience is just a bonus. As a tourism option you wouldn’t have that option, I’m sure that changes things. I’m also sure that if I got a chance for a 24hour journey to space it would be the high point of my life. I’m not convinced that extending that to 30 days would greatly enhance that.

        I know that Virgin Galactic are planning for sub-orbital flights of a very short duration. I was commenting more that I hope they would be able to extend that duration in the future.

        Either way, I’m not against the venture, or people participating. I’m a big fan of space etc. I just don’t think that with any technology we can expect to have within the next 10-15 years that space tourism is that interesting for the masses.

        • Torbjörn Larsson June 14, 2011, 1:40 PM

          I, on the other hand, accept what you say on the work/relaxation divide. But I believe my point stands, the environment is not a priori boring (as far as “statistics” goes). And tourist hotel guests all over the world have a panoply of options to do during a stay.

          There will be spas, gyms, sport courts (“space ball”; huh), outs (space travel) and visits (to ISS) as in other such hotels. Why not? And don’t forget the holiday sex! The hundred mile high club will be like no other.* =D

          If people are content to spend weeks in one spot, they can as well do that here.

          —————
          * Really, if they can make it, they will have a whole new customer set. Many disabilities will mean squat all over the hotel and especially here.

    • Torbjörn Larsson June 13, 2011, 9:57 PM

      Actually most of what you say seems rejected by anecdote, if not data:

      – Astronauts say it is the high point of their life.
      – Astronauts say they don’t get bored.

      I.e. 30 days may be a good idea.

      – Astronauts hint that you have to get 5-10 minutes alone and “fix” the experience combined with a mnemonic device so you can recall it.

      I.e. you don’t have to stay 30 days. (But you want to.)

      – Virgin Galactic will provide suborbital jumps of a few minutes duration.

      I.e. 24 hours? Forget it! =D

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