Hilton Hotels has signed up to design the crew accommodation and hospitality suites in the Starlab, one of three stations in the running to replace the International Space Station (ISS) that will not retire until 2031.
The partnership is with Voyager, which plans to build a large inflatable habitat that will launch in 2027 — and it’s using $130 million from NASA to make it happen.
However, the announcement does not reveal details of the rooms, stating that Hilton’s suites “will make extended stays more comfortable.”
This would be a big change from the living space on the ISS, which is said to be as cozy as a five-bedroom house. However, at times it can house 13 crew members and large amounts of equipment, making it feel more like a crowded space.
Starlab is one of three commercial space stations in the race to replace NASA’s International Space Station
Dylan Taylor, Chairman and CEO, Voyager Space, said in a: pronunciation“Starlab will be more than just a destination, it will be an experience that becomes infinitely more unique and artsy with the Hilton team’s infusion of innovation, expertise and global reach.
“Voyager and Hilton are sharply focused on creating innovative solutions for the future of humanity, and this partnership opens new doors to what is possible for comfort-oriented space exploration and inhabitation.”
Voyager, which has received $160 million from NASA, is up against the Blue Origin-led project Orbital and a Northrup Grumman platform based on its Cygnus spacecraft.
The space station will be a great circle and rotate to generate artificial gravity that will be set at a similar level to the gravity on the surface of the moon. Voyager released this image last year, but it could be the future suites at the station
Starlab is being designed by Voyager, who partnered with Hilton Hotel to create living spaces 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 customers but the bulk of the funding coming from commercial sources.
The chosen station will be used by NASA and other government agencies, as well as private sector customers, including tourism.
Chris Nassetta, Hilton president and CEO, said in a statement, “Hilton has been innovating for more than a century to improve the guest experience and pioneering new destinations for travel. We are excited to partner with Voyager to bring that expertise to Starlab.
“For decades, discoveries in space have had a positive impact on life on Earth, and now Hilton has the opportunity to use this unique environment to enhance the guest experience wherever people travel.
“This historic partnership underscores our deep commitment to spreading the light and warmth of hospitality and providing a friendly, reliable stay, both on the ground and in space.”
Voyager and Hilton will partner in architecture and design, leveraging Hilton’s world-class creative design and innovation experts, to develop the Space Hospitality crew headquarters aboard Starlab, including common areas, hospitality suites and sleeping places for the astronauts.
In addition, the teams will work together to explore opportunities for longer-term endeavors, including the ground-to-space astronaut experience, global co-marketing and branding, and other tourism, educational and commercial endeavors.
Voyager, which has been awarded $160 million by NASA, is taking on the Blue Origin-led project called Orbital (pictured)
A Northrup Grumman platform based on its Cygnus spacecraft is also being developed
Starlab is expected to launch in one flight in 2027 and will be a “continuously manned, commercial space station dedicated to conducting advanced research and advancing commercial industrial activity.”
The habitat is designed for four astronauts and will have a power, volume and payload equivalent to that of 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 hub, a power and propulsion element, a large robotic arm for maintaining cargo and payloads, and the George Washington Carver (GWC) Science Park.
The GWC Science Park is a state-of-the-art laboratory system with extensive research, science and manufacturing capabilities.
“Starlab is the confluence of Lockheed Martin’s rich space expertise and history, Nanoracks’ innovation and Voyager’s financial know-how,” said Lockheed Martin’s Lisa Callahan.
“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 being designed as a “mixed-use space park” that will provide essential infrastructure needed to support all types of human spaceflight activities in low Earth orbit and can be scaled up to serve new markets, the group said.
Northrop Grumman has yet to name its upcoming space station, but says it was designed as a modular, commercial destination in low Earth orbit.
The design uses proven elements, such as the Cygnus spacecraft that will deliver cargo to the International Space Station and will be able to support four crew members at once.
EXPLAINED: THE $100 BILLION INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION IS 250 MILES ABOVE THE EARTH
The International Space Station (ISS) is a $100 billion (£80 billion) science and engineering laboratory orbiting 400 kilometers above the Earth.
It has been permanently manned by rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts since November 2000.
Crews are mainly from the US and Russia, but the Japanese space agency JAXA and the European space agency ESA have also sent astronauts.
The International Space Station has been continuously occupied for over 20 years and has been expanded with multiple new modules added and upgrades to systems
Research aboard the ISS often requires one or more of the unusual conditions present in low Earth orbit, such as low gravity or oxygen.
ISS studies have explored human research, space medicine, life sciences, natural sciences, astronomy and meteorology.
The US space agency NASA spends about $3 billion (£2.4 billion) a year on the space station program, with the remaining funding coming from international partners, including Europe, Russia and Japan.
So far, 244 individuals from 19 countries have visited the station, including eight citizens who spent up to $50 million for their visit.
There is an ongoing debate about the station’s future after 2025, when it is believed that some of the original structure will reach the end of its life.
Russia, a major partner in the station, plans to launch its own orbital platform around that time, while Axiom Space, a private company, plans to send its own modules to the station for purely commercial use.
NASA, ESA, JAXA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) are collaborating 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 surface base.