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Space

Motel 6... Hundred Miles Up 183

SatelliteBoy writes: "Robert Bigelow, the tycoon behind Budget Suites of America, has founded Bigelow Aerospace. He just announced plans to launch a space station. He claims it can go up within 30 months. Let's see what this costs to visit..."
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Motel 6... Hundred Miles Up

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Already been done, sorry.

    Reckoned the first were Russian cosmonauts some years ago, while apparently NASA experimented with a married couple a while back.

    You're supposed to need restraints to link you to the wall or you tend to float off into the distance rather quickly...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    to quote al pacino in "heat" - you could get killed walking your doggie!.
  • There's a very nice one in Brazil, ~3 degrees of the equator.


    Don Negro

  • >..and of course there are absolutely no customers
    >outside the US


    ahah! At long last, we've found the rumored developer of commercial BeOS applications. "If it sells just one ticket . . ."


    :)

    > and the US has absolutely no gun-toting
    > warlords of its own. and the US has absolutely > no gun-toting warlords of its own.


    1) she wan't a warlord, but had a legal office.
    2) She left town with Bill & Co. in January


    hawk

  • Actually, the ISS is quite noisy. At one point, background noise levels on the Zvezda module were on average, 70-75 dB. So, you may not hear this:

    "Honey, we're going to have to use more straps. I just cant get enough friction."
    "That's because you keep floating away from me."

    But you will hear the incessent drone of hydraulic pumps and fans and dust collectors. Ah, how romantic!
  • [NASA] probably resisted to Tito's space journey due to the fact Tito is untrained as an astronaut and could have caused catastrophic damage to the space shuttle, possibly killing the crew, even unintentionally.

    Tito rode Russian vehicles; he didn't ride on a shuttle -- not on the way up, and not on the way down.

  • Think about what happens with spillover in a zero-gravity environment.

    "Honey, the regs say you have to swallow..."
  • Ross Perot's based out of Texas, not Nevada.

    Hillary Clinton's in New York/Washington D.C.

    Besides, what makes Bigelow a crazy megalomaniac? Because he's got money and wants to build a space station?

  • I wonder if they move it closer to the sun if they will need to leave the light on for you at all...
  • the months of rigorous training astronauts go through before they go into space.

    It takes years of training to learn to fly a 747. It takes five minutes to run through the safety briefing for passengers . . .

    As to the health demands of space, they've sent up large numbers of middle-aged and even a few elderly people. Aside from space sickness (which apparently affects both young and old equally), and the G's of the launch (a rollercoaster probably applies more acceleration, and certainly more unpredictably), space is quite fine health-wise for a short-term visit.

    Go you big red fire engine!

  • Probably because Bigelow Aerospace is a defense contracter, and he'll probably manage to make more doing it this way. If the feds try to keep him from doing it, he'll likely look elsewhere.

  • Bigelow aerospace???

    No deuce!!!!

    --

  • obviously you've never had sex in space.

    Spoken like a true armchair expert. So tell us, what was YOUR direct experience of sex in space like?

  • This is under the FAA jurisdiction if the flight originates or terminates in US airspace.

    So begin and end the flight in a different country.

    Of course, what about the hotel flying/hovering "above the US". At what height does jurisdiction end?

  • Well, that's just NASA funding though, those states will still get other federal funding for roads, health programs, etc. The total will be more than 6%.

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • You could grow it in a mini-centrifuge; at one point NASA was going to try this (well, not with pot obviously :), I don't know if they have or not.

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • Now thats a $65,000 question: Who was the first person to have sex (with another person) in space? Well, actually, the first to have any sex in space would be a milestone too.
  • by rde ( 17364 )
    They've already had a, ahem, head start. Check out The Uranus Experiment. Shot on the vomit comet, it promises (and delivers) the world's first zero-g cum shot.
    Okay, it's not space per se, but boldy coming on the comet is surely the first step.
  • For the same reason that although oil tankers are usually registered in fun-loving, safety-conscious places like Liberia, cruise ships still tend to be registered in the U.S., Norway and other Western countries.

    People like to have a certain amount of trust in the organization that puts them on top of a Saturn V...

  • It's not a hoax. I know some of the technical team involved. They're pretty serious about it. And $500 million ain't chicken feed.

    Why has nobody else done it? I dunno, but somebody's got to be first in anything. Now's the right time for this to happen; and Bigelow's in the right place. Should be interesting!
  • There are Russian launchers for both cargo (Proton, not to mention Energiya) and people (Soyuz) that can easily handle what Bigelow needs, for 1/5th to 1/10th Shuttle prices. It'd be nice to have American companies that can do it too, but I think Bigelow's plans on this are pretty realistic if he can make use of the Russian hardware.
  • by bobdehnhardt ( 18286 ) on Thursday May 31, 2001 @09:44AM (#186352)
    From the Outer Space Treaty, entered into force on 10 October, 1967:

    (Article I Excerpt) Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be free for exploration and use by all States without discrimination of any kind, on a basis of equality and in accordance with international law, and there shall be free access to all areas of celestial bodies.


    and

    (Article II) Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.


    and finally,

    (Article VI) States Parties to the Treaty shall bear international responsibility for national activities in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, whether such activities are carried on by governmental agencies or by non-governmental entities, and for assuring that national activities are carried out in conformity with the provisions set forth in the present Treaty. The activities of non-governmental entities in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, shall require authorization and continuing supervision by the appropriate State Party to the Treaty. When activities are carried on in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, by an international organization, responsibility for compliance with this Treaty shall be borne both by the international organization and by the States Parties to the Treaty participating in such organization.


    The US doesn't own "everything around the Earth". But per the Outer Space Treaty, the US is responsible for the actions in space of any US-based "entities". Thus, proper govenmental clearance must be obtained before any activities can take place.
  • i definitely don't want to hear the words 'budget' and 'space travel' in the same sentence.

    here we are, sir. your neoprene scuba suit, a heavy winter jacket, two pairs of mittens, and a motorcycle helmet. ask your bunkmate to tie you down with this twine, and enjoy your flight!

    complex
  • 'Cause I'll be ancient by the time this thing actually comes together. I just hope I survive the liftoff.
  • Last time I checked - 60,000 feet. There's airspace classes. If you pass through these airspaces you must have permission of the FAA to do so. There is a layer from 18,000 ft(???) to 60,000 feet. I think those numbers are right. FAA has control over those spaces. So the floating hotel should be fine. The flying through us airspace is gonna get tricky. As for being in other countries they will have regs too. Oh and then on return you have to come through cutoms. For FAA details on this stuff see here. [jccbi.gov]
    -cpd
  • The space station would be fairly basic. No need for life support that can keep people alive for months, smallish solar arrays because there's no need to supply power hungey scientific experiments. Perhaps he could even buy one of the spare Mir hulls the Russians still have.

    The big bottleneck is getting people there. Assuming you still use Soyuz's, you could carry two passangers and one professional Cosmonaut. That'd split the fare Dennis Tito paid in half but that's still a lot of money. Are there enough people who can:

    (a) Afford it

    (b) Are fit enough (rich people are often old)

    (c) Can spare the time to train (rich people are usually busy)

    to make the whole thing worthwhile. Still, I hope this goes ahead.

  • So why launch out of the US?

    A launch pad will have to be constructed. Why not do it somewhere else? I bet there are quite a few coastal South American countries that would like a few bucks to locate the launch facilities there.

    I mean if you are going to space, why not take a nice cruise first.

    I see the US space program starting to loose out on highly profitible ventures if they don't losen up a little bit. If you take a billionare up on every time you can basicly make the flight for free.

    --
  • Like I was saying in another post...

    Just buy up some coastal land in South America. Fix everything up all nice. Then offer as part of the space launch an ocean cruise.

    --
  • he should have to deal with the FAA and the US government at all.


    Oops, I meant to type "shouldn't".

  • by austad ( 22163 ) on Thursday May 31, 2001 @08:38AM (#186360) Homepage
    Why is he even bothering with the FAA and United States legal BS? If he launches from some other country, like one near the equator to decrease the amount of fuel needed to get into orbit, he should have to deal with the FAA and the US government at all.

    Isn't there already a launchpad in some african country near the equator, or didn't russia just make some deal to put one there?

  • "Isn't there already a launchpad in some african country near the equator..."

    I believe that the French have a launch facility on the north coast of South America, very close to the equator. It's where their old penal colony was. Watch the great Steve McQueen movie Papillon for more details on the prison.

    -B
  • From the very site you cite [nasa.gov]:
    NAME: Anna L. Fisher, (M.D.)
    NASA Astronaut
    PERSONAL DATA:
    Born August 24, 1949, in New York City, New York, but considers San Pedro, California, to be her hometown. Married to Dr. William F. Fisher of Dallas, Texas. They have two children. She enjoys snow and water skiing, jogging, flying, scuba diving, reading, photography, and spending time with her daughters.
    Note: My emphasis above

    Not that that proves that no one's ever "done it" in space. Cecil Adams of Straight Dope fame, however, throws water on the idea that anyone ever has "done it" [straightdope.com].

  • And what happens when muscles go into atrophy? Or at least start? This doesn't sound fun.

    ---
  • ...If the story is for real, that is.

    I especially like this part of the article:
    "They are asking us for patience and for a
    lot of details,'' said Bigelow, who formed Bigelow
    Aerospace in 1999 and has promised to spend $500
    million on his effort over the next 15 years.
    "The papers and forms don't exist for an
    application like this.''


    ...Um, $500 million? Considering that the United
    States alone is spending some $95 billion on the
    ISS, I don't quite understand. Is he going to put a
    cardboard box up there?
  • Even worse, one of the things that makes real-life swimming (in a pool, not deep-diving) easy is that one always floats up. Normally I swim until my lungs are bursting, then just hold off inhaling until I've floated up and my head's out of the water--I don't have the oxygen in my system left to swim up and out.

    I imagine that the pool would actually be a room filled with water; the swimmers would use air tanks. The advantage to floating in a normal 0G environment would be that one can swim much more easily through water than air. In fact, I can even foresee that it might make sense to fill certain spaces of a ship with water for exactly that reason. OTOH, the downside would be that one would need to store a lot of air.

  • My question is, why do Americans think the rest of the world has no technology?

    My question is, why do so many non-Americans believe all Americans think alike?

    My possible answer: because most Americans think alike, and most Americans voice their opinions loudly.

  • The Shuttle is a complete failure if you measure that by it's ability to meet it's objectives. When it was designed, it was expected to cost $50M per launch, not the current $500M+. The cheapest way to put stuff in space is still big fireworks.
  • In an effor to raise funds for my trip to the spotel, I am selling off some excess inventory. All are in good condition and have been well-maintained.

    1976 Caucasian Wife, low mileage, good in bed

    1979 Caucasian Mistress, high mileage, nicer titties.

    One Kidney, redundant system unneeded

    One Right Arm, redundant system mostly unneeded

    1971 Caucasion Soul, mostly unused but has a tendency for occasional evil.

    $500,000 OBO.

    - Rev.
  • Funny enough, that's exactly what AT&T found when they proposed the first Telstar satellite.

    Despite all the hype, NASA & the US government aren't really very good at practical planning ahead.

  • Oh, I don't know - you could also present the argument that if ther *was* an accident with another space group, that NASA would get a fair bit of extra work out of it ("Those NASA fellows know their safety" etc etc)

    Anyway, most people have a fair idea that space is hazardous. Anyone who tells me that accelerating to orbital velocity on the top of a gigantic chemical reaction is safe will get the "keep smiling, don't make eye contact, back away slowly" treatment from me.


    ** Windows has detected a mouse movement.
  • and if your credit card comes back denied, we'll throw you into the airlock and put your lights out for you.
  • It was designed for 12 shuttles at a cost of $500 mil each. Taht got cut to 6 at a billion each. The systems were designed for 20 shuttles and a luanch every two days.

  • NOT A CHANCE! this thing will be so tied up in regulatory red tape that it would be lucky if it could launch from the US in 10-15 years, much less 2 and ahalf like he's talking about. Hell, it takes the FAA longer than that to even certify an airplane for commercial sale. Not if the get smart and go from some other country ... maybe.
  • Its not good to reply to bait, but I'll do it anyways.

    Getting to orbit is one problem, what to do once you are there is another. Bigelow is the first to announce a solid plan for a civilian space station which can be used for tourists and cheaper scientific studies.

    Tito is untrained as an astronaut

    Tito paid for his training, and spent 9 months of his life working at the cosmodrome to become a fully fledged cosmonaut.

    There are other *naut training programs on this planet besides NASA. The russians have one, the European Space Agency has one. The Japanese are creating one, and China has claimed to have one. One of those would love to earn the money from setting up a "civilian" school to train hotel station crew. I know of several commercial airline pilots who would love to spend a couple years of their life as space hotel crew.

    Imagine putting on your CV that you worked in a space station, and have logged 17 million flight miles. Earthside jobs might be kind of boring after that. :-)

    no space oriented engineers working on it

    Why couldn't they get space oriented engineers working on it? There certainly are enough with experience who would jump at the chance to leave NASA's stifling bureaucracy and work in the private sector. There are probably thousands who have already made the jump, and the Russian program would also be a good recruiting ground.

    he could cause the death of hundreds of people

    At most, with 3 habitation modules, the space hotel could only support 12 or so people. A captain, 3 crew, 2 scientists, and 6 guests. With hundreds of people ready to put up a million US dollars for a short stay in orbit, the hotel could pay for itself with an active 10 year life span. There would also be a steady revenue from scientific companies who can't afford NASAs outrageous payload requirements. TV reality shows already have huge budgets, and someone would love to pay-per-view the first sex in space.

    If Bigelow can sustain the capital flow to get regulatory approval, certainly there are launch sites that can put up his modules. They can be launched from Khazakstan or Sea Launch, and avoid most of the NASA/FAA BS.

    Tito was the first leak in the dike NASA has imposed, and I'd expect the dam to start to leak more and more soon. There are at least a dozen viable commercial re-usable LEO launcher programs under development. Tito showed all of us dreamers that space can be had by merely throwing money around. Bigelow obviously saw the same thing, and has the capital to act on this Next Big Thing.

    the AC
  • You are using the 1960's technology space shuttle as the basis for all the stress astronauts encounter during launch.

    There are at least a dozen programs under way to create a low-cost civilian earth-to-LEO launch system. Either launch simple rockets or planes from baloon platforms at 100,000 feet, or use a cargo plane to get to 50,000+ feet and drop from the wing, or SSTO, and the list goes on. The one most likely to be successful will allow just about anyone in reasonable physical shape to get to orbit without violent stresses.

    But you are right on the rich part, but you would be surprised how many rich, adventurous people are out there. And don't forget corporations, especially entertainment companies, who could afford to send 3 couples, a cameraman and producer up for a reality based show. Brings whole new meaning to voting someone off the station :-)

    the AC
  • Sure, you can bring the costs down, if you allow more risk. Right now, after the recent Better, Faster, Cheaper problems, NASA takes very little risk. To be sure, after all the bad publicity they recieved after the Challenger launch, they're willing to spend more money to avoid damagning their image... and killing people.

    Once we start sacrificing safety, things will get cheaper. All regulated US transportation industries are much safter than those that are not. Compare airplanes and trains to cars, or even to semis. But, if space has a fatality rate close to the 41,800 per year in the US [dot.gov] (1.6 per 100 million vehicle miles), I don't think many people would want to go.

  • It would seriously suck to be housekeeping up there. I imagine maids have interesting stories down here, but I can't imagine everything they'd run into up there.

    Think about what happens with spillover in a zero-gravity environment.(define spillover as you wish).

    I know the hotel would probably have some technique to create artificial gravity, but still there will be areas (as crowdpleasers) where zero-gravity can be experienced. People will find a way to experiment with this in every way you can or cannot imagine, and in ways you wish you couldn't imagine. eww.

  • by bungalow ( 61001 ) on Thursday May 31, 2001 @09:59AM (#186381)
    I wonder if they will have a swimming pool. That would be odd in zero G. a big sphere of water hovering in the middle of the room.

    This sounds extremely dangerous; Water containment would be the first challenge; I don't know how surface tension differs, but it would stand to my reason that , a "big sphere" would react to newtonian physics as well - if everyone jupmed in on one side, using the walls as a push point or whatever, then the mass of water would be pushed around quite easily. And break. Then you have perpetual zero-grav percipitation, not a pool.

    The bigger challenge I see is orientation and buoyancy. IN a 10' deep pool, most people know to swim "up". In a zero-grav environment, especially where pressure is significantly lower than what people are used to, one would easily become quite disoriented. Without unfamiliar buyancy charqacteristics, people could suffocate themselves by swimming "in" instead of "out".

    I'm not saying I'd never swim in outerspace; it sounds like a bit of fun, actually. But I'd want a few lessons beforehand.
  • Do you have any idea just how expensive it is to fly to third-world countries

    A damn sight cheaper than to fly into space, I bet ... ;)


    Steve
    ---
  • "We were promised this decades ago."
    Hmm, who was it that promised this to you. I'll go beat them up for you for breaking their promises.
  • by dolanh ( 64212 ) on Thursday May 31, 2001 @09:50AM (#186385) Homepage Journal
    The US and Russia have very different economies. You can't compare what it costs to do business in one country with what it costs in another. Chances are many of the subcontractors that NASA uses are paid 10x yearly what the Russian workers make. That adds up quickly.
  • re the title:

    Robin Williams once made a "Martian Haiku":

    Red Sand between my toes
    Summer Vacation in outer space

    That was a martian haiku, thank you


    From "Reality: What a Concept". Of course, it's not a haiku.
  • Face it, the US is the only country doing anything at all in space anymore.

    Not even close. The European Space Agency puts more heavy satellites in geo-synchronous orbit than any other space agency. AFAIK, French based Ariane-Space operates the space launch center in Kourou, French Guiana in South America. They have more launches in a year than anybody else, including NASA and the Russians. The Japanese have even sent a probe to the Moon and are planning to send another to Mars using their own rocket technology. Even India is getting in on the satellite launching business.

    My question is, why do Americans think the rest of the world has no technology?
  • some more perspective. While it will rank as one of the greatest achievements of mankind. During the first ten years of the Apollo moon program (up to the actual first man on the moon), cost 5% of the US gross national product for the period. For 10 years, 5% of the gross production of the US went to the moon program. Think about it. Kennedy had some serious balls.
  • I'm glad they did too. However, putting a man on the moon stirs up the spirit a bit more than that orbiting vegitable garden they have now (Internation Space Station). By the way, that zero-G brocolli experement takes up 6% of the annual US Budget. (Far more than the roughly 3% tax cut about to be passed).
  • Hate to argue, but I think your NASA figures are way off the charts. The AP reported [nandotimes.com] that the shuttle costs upwards of 1 billion/mission including development costs. NASA quoted the number at 490 million/launch in 1999. The simple math is that the human flight budget plus mission support is budgeted for a bit over 8 billion FY2001 and they are planning 8 missions. This doesn't included NASA's non-shuttle costs, nor amorization of costs already spent.
  • I could not agree with you any more. The bottom line, is that all government spending starts out with the best intentions (man in space, get to the moon). But once you spend, they can't stop. Look at NASA. Florida, California and Texas. Hmmm, like a politician is going to cut pork spending in one of those states? I mean, who needs FLORIDA to win an election? NASA will consume a little over 6% of the federal budget in 2002. Those three states get the bulk of that percentage. Think about that. Three states getting 6% of the federal budget. Ok, you are a Senator from Florida. You are getting some piece of 6% of the federal budget, just for NASA. Are you going to say, "Hold on one second, we need to drive these costs down!" I doubt it.
  • by selectspec ( 74651 ) on Thursday May 31, 2001 @09:19AM (#186394)
    For the same reason they hated Tito. NASA doesn't want anybody to build a space station for 500 million dollars, because it shows how rediculous their budget is. It was the same deal with Tito. Tito payed roughly 12 million to go into space (despite NASA's attempts to claim the number was really 20 million). The Russian crew was three including Tito. Assuming, that the 12 million was enough to cover the costs of a single crew member (why else would they do it), that suggests that it only cost the Russians at most about 36 million (I'm sure it was less). It costs NASA 600 million for each space shuttle launch ( = Space shuttle annual budget / number of launches). Now, if you are a NASA administrator, and some guys says he's going to spend 500 million on a space station, and you can't launch the shuttle for that, what are you going to say!
  • by JEDi_ERiAN ( 79402 ) on Thursday May 31, 2001 @08:38AM (#186395) Homepage
    obviously you've never had sex in space.

    E.


    -
  • Isn't there already a launchpad in some african country near the equator, or didn't russia just make some deal to put one there?

    ESA has a launch complex in French Guyana.

    Rich...

  • Why is he even bothering with the FAA and United States legal BS? If he launches from some other country, like one near the equator to decrease the amount of fuel needed to get into orbit, he should have to deal with the FAA and the US government at all.

    Presumably because he's looking for a customer base among wealthy Americans first, and it wouldn't "look good" to have to go through what the elite probably view as a dirty, third-world country to get to an orbital hotel.
  • by zpengo ( 99887 )
    I already bought tickets to Boston for our honeymoon. Zero-G would be lots more fun!
  • All I can say is that it's about bloody TIME!

    We were promised this decades ago. Now it's starting to happen. Maybe I'll see space tourism in my lifetime afterall.

  • Would you? I'd appreciate it. I'll send you a long list of all of my teachers, the media, the governments, etc., who said, "Why, by the year 2000 you'll be taking vacations on the moon!

    Was it rhetoric? Of course, but I don't think anyone expected the space program worldwide to fall apart so badly.

    And dammit, I wanted to turn 30 in space! Well, maybe I'll aim for 40 or 50 now.

  • by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Thursday May 31, 2001 @09:43AM (#186410) Journal
    Nah. I never said that Linux would be a huge commercial success. Financially, there's damned little model for producing, updating, or selling the thing.

    Nonetheless, Linux is out there, and used successfully in large commercial installations (Google!). In that sense, Linux IS big--bigger than one would have expected in 1997.

    Similarly, I'm looking at decades of space research (and for quite a while, neglect) coming to fruition now. The first paying passenger went into space a month ago. We have a permanent space station in orbit. Private interests have been talking space travel for three or four years, and are starting to put up the money.

    This is the thin edge of the wedge. Not space tourism yet, but it _is_ starting (and 'starting' is the key here) to happen.

  • I've heard it said (on what authority, I honestly have no idea) that the lack of gravity actually makes things a lot more difficult (you push, she just floats away). However, breasts in zero g would certainly be a sight to behold...

    The only "intuitive" interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned.
  • Following the links to Commercial Space [bigelowaerospace.com] at Bigelow Areospace leads me to wonder about the true nature of the project:
    Another essay by Allen Tough, lists five promising strategies for How to Achieve Contact with other civilizations.

    --
  • by Ronin X ( 121414 ) on Thursday May 31, 2001 @09:03AM (#186417)
    Motel 6 2003 ad campaign:

    We'll leave the life support on fer ya.

  • by kalifa ( 143176 ) on Thursday May 31, 2001 @08:50AM (#186423)
    Is it just me or did someone else notice that all these crazy megalomaniacs are always based in the most kitsch and megalomaniac city of this world?
  • by Docrates ( 148350 ) on Thursday May 31, 2001 @11:15AM (#186428) Homepage
    *SIGH* I saw this coming from miles away...

    Are you so arrogant as to think that the US is the only acceptable place for classy millionaires with space travel wishes? well I'll tell you what, pretty much ANY classy millionaire would accept living in a whole lot of places outside the US. Argentina, France, Australia, Canada, etc., and in fact many of them do.

    And that only speaks of your lack of knowledge, but I also have a problem with your judgement. I would suspect that any marker research done to establish the demand for space tourism will throw out numbers that would contradict your statement. The Denis Titos and James Camerons of the world wouldn't mind traveling to, say, Brazil, to get on a rocket heading for a space station. Believe me, it is not in Brazil that they will encounter an unconfortable, unsafe environment, it will be in space.

    Now I do agree that they'll rather do the whole thing in the states, in spite of all the legal hurdles. Why? well because it's cheaper, to the point where it seems to be feasible. Most of the technology required to go to space, and the knowledgeable people that make it work, are in greater supply in the US. Furthermore, if you read the article, they are counting on someone else to develop a cheaper way of taking people to earth orbit, and most projects heading that way are either in the US or Canada.

    I can only think of Russia, France, Japan and maybe Brazil, as viable alternatives, due mainly to the fact that those countries have space launch infrastructure (and I'm sure I left some out). Still I would think that it would be cheaper to do it in the US because of the greater availability of engineers specialized in the field.

    But you know what? since I haven't seen the BP for this enterprise, I can't be certain. Unlike you, who seem to know it all...
  • "Maybe I'll see space tourism in my lifetime afterall."

    I'm happy to tell you; you already have! You can die happy! ;-)

    Ok, on a very much less flippant note. There are reasonably good reasons to think that the underlying costs to get into space are just a few thousand per person (if you look at the fuel costs which are much, much less than most people would suppose.)

    The Russians are only two orders of magnitude more than this, NASA is three.

    The nice thing about space is that the costs are likely to go down as the rate of launch goes up- right now most things are handbuilt and so costs are huge.

    Space launch is growing at about 15% a year. Wait 5 years and we will see an order of magnitude more stuff going up there. That's going to affect the price.

    I think within 15 years (if the trend continues) we will see large scale tourism.
  • Yes, its difficult to get exact figures, subtly different questions give you very big differences in the figures (e.g. yearly launch pad costs are they included per launch or not?). Let's suffice it to say that depending on how you cut it, the space shuttle costs somewhere between $100 million and $1.5 billion; mostly towards the top end of the range.

    Still, although I was trying to be fairly non controversial, in a fairly real sense, the comparison is unfair to the Russians as you can't buy a launch in the shuttle if you wanted to; but if you could it would seem reasonable for NASA to charge for profit ontop of the costs. Whereas the $85 million for a Proton V is all in.
  • by WolfWithoutAClause ( 162946 ) on Thursday May 31, 2001 @10:12AM (#186432) Homepage
    Actually Tito probably more or less paid for the whole flight. The entire Russian space budget runs to under $200 million; the cost of each rocket is about $4 million (source: Gary Hudson of Rotary Rocket fame). There will be launch pad costs on top of that, but I doubt they will add up to more than $8 million.

    By comparison, the unit cost of a space shuttle launch is $100 million including pad maintenance; but not including development costs.

    The rocket that Tito went up on is much less capable of course. The more capable rocket the Russians have Proton V, which can carry a similar payload mass to the shuttle costs about $5 million. The Russians charge $85 million per launch cf $500+ million for the space shuttle.
  • Sounds like a perfect holiday location....Nothing for miles except fellow tourists and drugs.

    You bring up an interesting point.... Does the FDA have juristiction in Space? I wonder how pot would grow in 0G.

  • by doorbot.com ( 184378 ) on Thursday May 31, 2001 @10:30AM (#186445) Journal
    NASA also has to be concerned about the safety of the other missions. If a mission fails, and people are killed (which is probably more likely than mere injury), that can cause a very serious backlash against the space industry in general.

    "But is it safe?"
    "We need to make sure none of our boys/girls will get hurt."
    "Let's wait a few years and re-evaluate our current safety precautions/proceedures."

    And so on. You can imagine how much NASA would like to continue with their current plans of action, and not have to fend off safety concerns from the general public, people who historically have never understood these kinds of complex issues. All they know is that "something bad" happened and "how are we going to stop it from happening again."

    If the mission fails, there will be significant political/public opinion setbacks for NASA. They're worried, and rightfully so.
  • I don't know how good I feel about the owner of a chain named "Budget Suites" attempting to put up a quick space station... The mental image I get in my head is 3 GIANT soda cans linked together with twine floating around the earth. =)

  • You're not too far off thinking the way you did about this. I remember one thing that had very little reaction for mankind as a whole and received only reactions such as "Neat" or "Cool, but I don't need it". That thing very quickly became a staple of life/business/education and it is tough to imagine only a short time ago, we even managed to live without it.

    I'm talking about the Internet. I feel that the analogy is or will be paralleled with space occupancy. We've set the foundation and I expect the life/business/education needs to require space habitation as a normal way of life.

    I predict by 2010 (no special reason for that year), the first regular families will be aboard a space station as workers in research and specialized manufacturing businesses will consider that home. No sense NOT living close to work and being close to your family.

  • I would think there would be several advantages to being able to keep your launchpad inside the USA -- convenience for your customers, for one, not to mention the lack of gun-toting warlords. And moving away from "United States legal BS" only means that you have to move to some other country's legal BS instead.
  • On the one hand it's a brilliant concept, just build it and let someone else figure out how to cheaply deliver the tourists. The problem is it's useless until someone shows up looking for lodging for the night.

    That's why when selling Disney Land packages in Detroit they must always come with cheap airfare.

    The Russians are going to beat us up there. Our government just doesn't understand the free market like they do in Moscow.

  • Plants need a certain amount of gravity to grow shoots up and roots down. There have been studies with magnets and super bright lights but the effect is sketchy with little survival rates (based on the number of seed needed to get a single viable offspring.) Most plants fail to bud. There is also the down side of when plants do grow they lack the mechanism (gravity) that keeps them from growing too long. You'd get super long stems. So what you'd have growing Pot in space is all stem no bud from a huge number (pounds) of seed you'd need to carry up for each crop.

    You'd have better results with a concentrated halucinate like Acid, 100 hits on a 20 gram blotter paper.

  • by lazn ( 202878 ) on Thursday May 31, 2001 @08:43AM (#186453)
    "The papers and forms don't exist for an application like this."

    Umm the FAA dosn't own space. Just go.

    (I am sure europe would be interested to know the american government seems to think it owns everything around the earth)

    ==>Lazn
  • Just a clarification: Bigelow says he expects to be able to launch the first module in thirty months. It's a long way from a single module to an inhabitable space station.

    Robert Bigelow, who made his fortune as owner of Budget Suites of America, said he anticipates that his Bigelow Aerospace division will be able to launch a full-size space station module into orbit within 30 months.

    It would take three such modules linked together to create a space station the size of the current International Space Station, he said.

  • How can you claim You can't compare what it costs to do business in one country with what it costs in another? This is the whole reason companies relocate factories or build parts in different locations throughout the world. Parts cost less, labor costs less. If you can launch your equipment cheaper in Russia, then you launch your equipment in Russia. Saying you can't compare costs because the economies are different is idiotic. If $12 million US in Russia gets your stuff into orbit that is by definition cheaper than the $600 million US it costs NASA, no matter how much NASA's subcontractors may charge. The cost, in the end once everything is up in space, is what you compare. Last time I checked, 12 million was indeed less than 600 million.
  • by abdulwahid ( 214915 ) on Thursday May 31, 2001 @10:07AM (#186458) Homepage

    Bigelow said the private space station would be a destination for space tourists and could be used by drug firms.....

    Sounds like a perfect holiday location....Nothing for miles except fellow tourists and drugs. But hang on, when you're already floating around and are totally spaced out...who needs drugs?

  • Ok, I'll worry when the sun gets blotted out on Friday's after 3pm by the backup of traffic heading for a weekend in orbit.

    There was a pretty cool Hilton(?) commercial several years ago which painted a very romantacized version of a high class hotel in space. Other than they view, though, what the heck is there to do/see?

    --
    All your .sig are belong to us!

  • by goodhell ( 227411 ) on Thursday May 31, 2001 @09:17AM (#186462)
    Now let's see how many chicks I can get to join the 100 mile high club!
  • Here's the excerpt that cought my eye:
    Bigelow said the private space station would be a destination for space tourists and could be used by drug firms and other manufacturers who benefit from a zero-gravity environment.
    The next paragraph says they don't yet have a way to get tourists into space. That's OK. I like the other revenue stream mentioned. Rent out lab space to drug companies. So there are a lot of companies that want to do zero G research, but the other advantage is, there's no clear information on which government has jurisdiction. Ah, here's a great place to do all those human closing experiments I've been meaning to do!

    In all seriousness, in light of that, why is Bigallow even bothering with the FAA? Why doesn't he go lease some small island and work with the Russian or Chinese space program or the up and coming Austrelian Space PRogram [slashdot.org] to get resources and transportation needed to construct his space station. After all, what yould the US government do? threaten to blow it out of the sky? Somehow I don't think the public would take to that vary well. As it is, I can Garuntee that if he gets the license he's seeking, one of the provisions of the deal will be that the space station will be governed by US law. Probably not the most ideal if youwant to rent out Lab space to pharmicutical companies...

    --CTH
  • by discovercomics ( 246851 ) on Thursday May 31, 2001 @08:59AM (#186472) Homepage
    Rumors that Hilton hotels had been thinking along the same lines was discussed here on Slashdot back in September of 1999 [slashdot.org].
    This was revealed to be false several days later here [slashdot.org] on slashdot

    I doubt If I see it in my lifetime...

  • I've been pondering this article for a while, and I'm pretty certain that its a hoax. Could the wealth of a huge motel chain put people in space? I'm sure this guy is rich, but there are richer people who arn't doing this!

    This is, however, getting "Budget Suites" mentioned all over the news, and portrayed as being modern, with it, cool, etc. Nice...

    -
  • I stayed at the budget suites in Las Vegas (they have several there, I was at the "Rancho" one) and it was horrible. The maid comes once a week if you get the weekly rate. Since I was there for seven days, I got my sheets changed ONCE. After our second day there they ran out of towels and just kept saying "were waiting on the laundry service". I was there with a decent sized group (for a paintball tournament) and several people outright lost their reservations for no good reason. Though they had previously promised that we could park a 20 ft trailer there, that turned out to be false. While I was trying to talk to the dumb inbred whitetrash bitch at the front desk, she took a call from her mom and started arguing with her about gambling debts. It was incredible!

    [end rant]

    Anyway, if they new "space hotel" is of enven remotely simmilar quality as their earth hotels, I won't be going anywhere near there!

    -
  • ... Bigelow (may I call you Deuce?), NASA views space as a monopoly? And that's why they resisted to Tito's entering space? I doubt that. They probably resisted to Tito's space journey due to the fact Tito is untrained as an astronaut and could have caused catastrophic damage to the space shuttle, possibly killing the crew, even unintentionally. They wouldn't let anyone else go up, so why make an exception for someone with money?

    Also, how safe would this thing be with no space oriented engineers working on it? Would it be redundant like a NASA or Russian Space Program creation? I wouldn't want to visit a flying deathtrap. And, given the right mistakes, that's what this thing would be. It'd make MIR in its final years look like a resort.

    I hope that if this guy gets to go through with this that he at least uses some engineers with the proper training (NASA engineers that have lost their job, perhaps?) Otherwise, he could cause the death of hundreds of people. I wouldn't visit it if there's such a thing as a "CAPTAIN'S ESCAPE POD" in the blueprints...

  • ... That wasn't flamebait.

    Tito wasn't at the time, and NASA didn't seem to want to take the time to train him, even if he paid. Maybe they had other reasons...

    It wasn't toward Tito, but rather toward the guy who made such a statement toward NASA.

    Sorry if you thought it was flamebait, it wasn't intended that way. Later!

  • At the end of the day, you're tired from space walking everywhere with the kids, the long ride in the station wagon shuttle on the way to Grandma's house on the moon, all you really want is some rest, clean atmosphere and a vaccuum you can pee into. Here at Space Station Six, we beleive in amenities like artifical gravity, free space suits for the kids and a complementary freeze dried continental breakfast.

    So come on down to Space Station 6 next time you're trekking across the cosmos. We'll leave the landing light on for you.
  • the months of rigorous training astronauts go through before they go into space. I think this is misleading because it implies any Tom, Dick or Harry can go into space. Not only will you have to be rich, but you will have almost a flawless human specimen to be able to up.
  • Crazy, but cool. Really the first thing they'll have to do is make the name more appealing - I don't think that too many people would be willing to orbit the world in a "Budget Suites" Tin Can... well, maybe I would.

  • by redcup ( 441955 ) on Thursday May 31, 2001 @08:42AM (#186499)

    And it's only a matter of time before some sorority girls start up a "space cam" in their hotel room. Now the question is, who will be the first to join the "100 miles high" club?

    RC

  • by newt_sd ( 443682 ) on Thursday May 31, 2001 @08:50AM (#186501) Homepage
    ok the real question is how long till the adult industry starts exploring space. They seem to be the first in every other field and successful at that!!! Bring on the space hookers
  • by MarkusQ ( 450076 ) on Thursday May 31, 2001 @08:46AM (#186503) Journal
    From the article:
    The station's viability also depends on developing a commercially practical way of transporting space tourists. Bigelow's company is not involved in that effort, but other companies are.

    This sounds like an advertising stunt to me; eventually, they will be told "no" by someone, or they will get everything ready and be "waiting for transportation to become available"...in the meantime, cheap advertising for the real hotels down here.

    --MarkusQ

  • The governments of the world can only project the space program so far because it is unprofitable. If someone can successfully create a profit in space, it will result in more interest in the project and thus, more private funds. The space race of the people and for the people is on.
    ----
  • There was an excellent book written by John Barnes and Buzz Aldrin, called Encounter with Tiber. It was, in large part, a platform for Barnes and Aldrin to present methods in which today's technology could take people into orbit relatively inexpensively. I'm excited to see if Bigelow's space station comes to pass, because it might finally give commercial entities a reason to research and construct some decent ground-to-orbit ships.

If a thing's worth having, it's worth cheating for. -- W.C. Fields

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