With all of the talk of “space tourism,” very few businesses have a legitimate reason for visiting the stars other than viewing the Earth from space.
But what separates Robert Bigelow from the space tourism industry is that he desires not to merely take people on a short visit in space, but to build a space hotel for them to check into.
(Space.com) At a luncheon speech today in San Jose, Calif., at the AIAA Space 2006 Symposium, Bigelow said his third module, dubbed Sundancer, would have a mass of 8,618.4 kilograms and be equipped with life support systems, attitude control, three windows, on-orbit maneuverability, reboost and de-orbit capability.
He plans to place it at an altitude of 250 nautical miles at an orbital inclination of 40 degrees. Bigelow said that while Sundancer will be a scale model of the large, human-rated habitat he eventually plans to launch into orbit, it will nonetheless have 180 cubic meters of habitable space.
If Bigelow is able to get the space hotel up and operational, he will probably have to find an affordable way to bring those people into space (as $20 million plus may not be worth it to most people).
Although Lockheed Martin is partnering up with Bigelow Aerospace in order to provide a space ship to the hotel, they may want to consider the magnetic sled as a possible option as well (as it may be less expensive than sending a rocket into space).