Science

More on Space Tourism: Inflatable Hotel Launched

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Why, the news on private space travel is getting almost too thick to keep up with. To add to Katherine's post below, Space.com reports on last week's successful launch from a Russian base of the Genesis II prototype for a future inflatable space hotel.

And of course Katherine's January reason feature remains a wonderful primer on the whole burgeoning world of private space efforts

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  1. I can’t see investment in space for anything other than tourism or scientific experiments ever making solid business sense. Even If the moon were filled the brim with oil, it would be prohibitively expensive to go out there and drill it.

    Don’t get me wrong – i think this all this private spending on space stuff is great – but I’ll be surprised if space travel becomes affordable for those without massive wads of spare cash to spend. It’s so much cheaper to get rare resources here on earth, and there are lower bounds on the cost of space travel – it takes a LOT of energy to get yourself to escape velocity.

  2. Um, I think I remember a documentry on the Genesis II project. Scary stuff. Won’t the anti-genmod people be upset with this too? Not to mention Kahn?

  3. It’s inflatable? What, do they want somebody to breach the hull?

  4. Good thing it’s inflatable, since there’s so much air available in space.

  5. Once in space, the 15-foot (4.4-meter) module is designed to deploy eight solar arrays and expand from its launch width of 6.2 feet (1.9 meters) to a flight diameter of eight feet (2.54 meters). Genesis 2 carries 22 cameras – more than the 13 imagers aboard Genesis 1 – to record scenes within the spacecraft’s 406-cubic foot (11.5-cubic meter) volume.

    This would be great if they did a reality show in there.

  6. Space tourism? I’m still trying to get a straight answer on what exactly is being accomplished on the International Space Station. Yeah, I know, it’s getting bigger, but what the hell are they doing up there besides making it bigger? Anyone?

  7. [insert inflatable cocktail waitress joke here]

  8. Crimethink, even if it wasn’t inflatable, they’d still need to fill it with air if it’s any use at all as a space station…

    The advantage of an inflatable module is that it takes up less space on a rocket, meaning you can use smaller an cheaper launch vehicles.

    If this tech catches on, I wonder if that means we’ll one day see giant space zeppelins floating from planet to planet…

  9. ed,

    Space tourism? I’m still trying to get a straight answer on what exactly is being accomplished on the International Space Station. Yeah, I know, it’s getting bigger, but what the hell are they doing up there besides making it bigger? Anyone?

    International Space Stuff, of course. None of that pedestrian domestic space stuff for the new centry.

  10. Um, I think I remember a documentry on the Genesis II project. Scary stuff. Won’t the anti-genmod people be upset with this too? Not to mention Kahn?

    That reminds me — whatever happened to the poster known as Kaaaaaaaaaaaaaahnnnnnnnnnnnn!?

    (BTW, in the movie, it was actually spelled “Khan.”)

  11. It’s inflatable? What, do they want somebody to breach the hull?

    Perhaps they made it out of indestructium, the close cousin of unobtainium?

  12. Hey all,
    Just thought I’d interject some additional info into the conversation.

    1. Bigelow has several times pointed out that he isn’t developing a “space hotel”. He said that he’d lease space on his stations for people who want to try and run a space hotel, but that isn’t where he thinks the market is. He’s trying to set up a space station that is cheap and easy enough to access to attract microgravity research and eventually manufacturing. He’s also trying to encourage smaller countries that don’t currently have astronaut corps to put together space programs on the cheap. Why spend $2-3B per year to have 1-2 of your astronauts up there, when you can get the same results for a tiny fraction of the price.

    Here’s a quote:
    “It’s not about space hotels,” Bigelow says emphatically. He told Aviation Week & Space Technology that he is increasingly frustrated at media reporting that tars his space facilities as “space hotels”, because on Earth he is the president of the Budget Suites hotel chain.
    “We have been identified as the space hotel folks and that’s not the case — that really never has been the case.”

    “We’ve always imagined building commercial space complexes that can accommodate a variety of functions or variety of uses. So there is a major category and there are some significant approaches that we are going to be announcing that have not been discussed before that I’ve seen in any of the literature or any discussions with other companies,” he said.

    2. As for hull breaches, I’ve taken a tour of Bigelow’s facilities, and seen the hypervelocity impact test results. Their stuff holds up much better than the ISS hull would under micrometeorite impacts. The actual pressure bladder is protected by several layers of kevlar, insulation, spacing, etc. When a micrometeor hits the outer surface, it’s going fast enough that it completely vaporizes. The extra spacing, and multiple layers spread out that gas jet wide enough that by the time it hits the actual pressure bladder it can’t penetrate. At least not until you start getting to realy big micrometeors. Basically Bigelow’s stuff can take a hit that would completely depressurize an ISS module.

    Just some thoughts. Gotta get back to writing my thesis defense presentation.

    ~Jon

  13. JG,

    I already mentioned indestructium 😉

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