Hilton Hotels has contracted to design crew accommodation and hospitality suites at Starlab, one of three resorts vying to replace the international space station (ISS) who is expected to retire in 2031 at the earliest.
The partnership is with Voyager, which has set out to build a large inflatable habitat set to launch in 2027 – and it’s using $130 million worth of Nasa to succeed.
The ad, however, doesn’t reveal specifics of the rooms, but says Hilton’s suites will make “extended stays more comfortable.”
This would be a major departure from living quarters on the ISS, which would be as comfortable as a five-bedroom house. However, it can sometimes house 13 crew members and large amounts of equipment, making it feel like a crowded space.
Starlab is one of three commercial space stations vying to replace NASA’s International Space Station
Dylan Taylor, president and CEO of Voyager Space, said in a statement“Starlab will be more than just a destination, it will be an experience made infinitely more unique and artistic through the Hilton team’s contribution of innovation, expertise and global reach.
“Voyager and Hilton are focused on creating innovative solutions for the future of humanity and this partnership opens new doors to what is possible for comfort-focused space exploration and habitation.”
Voyager, which received $160 million from NASA, faces the Blue Origin-led project called Orbital and a Northrup Grumman platform based on its Cygnus spacecraft.
The space station will be a large circle and rotate to generate artificial gravity that will be set at a level similar to the gravity found on the surface of the moon. Voyager released this image last year, but it could be the station’s future sequels
Starlab is designed by Voyager, which has partnered with the Hilton hotel to create accommodations that make extended stays in space more comfortable
Blue Origin received $130 million and Northup Brumman $125.6 million.
All three hope to be operational by the middle of this decade, with NASA as a customer, but with the bulk of funding coming from commercial sources.
The chosen station will be used by NASA and other government agencies, as well as private sector clients, including tourism.
Chris Nassetta, President and CEO of Hilton, said in a statement: “Hilton has been innovating to improve the guest experience and pioneering new travel destinations for more than a century.” We are delighted to partner with Voyager to bring this expertise to Starlab.
“For decades, discoveries in space have had a positive impact on life on Earth, and now Hilton will have the opportunity to use this unique environment to enhance the guest experience wherever people travel.
“This historic collaboration underscores our deep commitment to spreading the light and warmth of hospitality and providing a friendly and reliable stay, whether on earth or in space.”
Voyager and Hilton will partner in architecture and design, leveraging Hilton’s creative design and innovation experts, to develop the space hospitality crew seat aboard Starlab , including common areas, hospitality suites, and sleeping quarters for astronauts.
Additionally, the teams will seek to jointly explore opportunities for longer-term endeavors including ground-to-space astronaut experience, global co-marketing and branding, and other tourism, educational and commercial.
Voyager, which received $160 million from NASA, is up against the Blue Origin-led project called Orbital (pictured)
A Northrup Grumman platform based on its Cygnus spacecraft is also in development.
Starlab is scheduled to launch by 2027 on a single flight and will be a “continuously crewed commercial space station dedicated to conducting advanced research and promoting commercial industrial activity”.
The habitat is designed for four astronauts and will have power, volume and payload capacity equivalent to the International Space Station.
The basic elements of the Starlab space station include a large inflatable habitat, designed and built by Lockheed Martin, a metal mooring node, a power and propulsion element, a large robotic arm for maintenance of cargo and payloads, and the George Washington Carver (GWC) Science Park.
The GWC Science Park is a state-of-the-art laboratory system that will house a comprehensive research, science and manufacturing capability.
“Starlab is the confluence of the rich space expertise and history of Lockheed Martin, the innovation of Nanoracks and the financial savvy of Voyager,” said Lisa Callahan of Lockheed Martin.
“This team is equipped to assist NASA in its mission to expand access to LEO and enable a transformative commercial space economy.”
Blue Origin Orbital Reef is designed to be a “mixed-use space activity park” that provides the essential infrastructure needed to support all types of human spaceflight activities in low Earth orbit and can be adapted to serve new markets, according to the group.
Northrop Grumman has yet to name its next space station, but says it is designed to be a modular commercial destination in low Earth orbit.
The design builds on flight-proven elements, such as the Cygnus spacecraft which provides cargo delivery to the International Space Station and will be able to support four crew members at a time.
EXPLAINED: THE $100 BILLION INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION IS 250 MILES ABOVE EARTH
The International Space Station (ISS) is a $100bn (£80bn) science and engineering laboratory that orbits 400km above Earth.
It has been permanently occupied by rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts since November 2000.
The crews came mainly from the United States and Russia, but the Japanese space agency JAXA and the European space agency ESA also sent astronauts.
The International Space Station has been continuously manned for over 20 years and has been expanded with several new modules added and system upgrades
Research conducted aboard the ISS often requires one or more of the unusual conditions found in low Earth orbit, such as low gravity or oxygen.
ISS studies have focused on human research, space medicine, life sciences, physical sciences, astronomy and meteorology.
The US space agency NASA spends around $3bn (£2.4bn) a year on the space station programme, with the rest of the funding coming from international partners including Europe, Russia and Japan.
So far, 244 people from 19 countries have visited the station, including eight individuals who have spent up to $50 million on their visit.
There is ongoing debate about the station’s future beyond 2025, when it is believed that part of the original structure will reach “end of life”.
Russia, a major partner of the station, plans to launch its own orbital platform around this date, with Axiom Space, a private company, planning to send its own modules to the station in parallel for purely commercial use.
NASA, ESA, JAXA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) are working together to build a space station in orbit around the Moon, and Russia and China are working on a similar project, which would also include a base in surface.