Once spaceplanes have reached the stage at which they are capable of orbital operations, the space hotel will be their natural destination. Wealthy space entrepreneur Robert Bigelow has both the means and the desire to see this kind of future unfurl - or in his case, inflate. His space hotel designs are essentially portable, inhabitable balloons, delivered to low Earth orbit in compact packages by conventional rocket. Once inflated, they promise to provide the luxurious accommodations expected by future space tourists. For those with the monetary means, the orbital sojourn promises to deliver the experience of a lifetime at "bargain" rates. The weekly charge in the Bigelow Sundancer, for example, is expected to be a reasonable $8 million. The Sundancer will provide 6,400 ft3 of floating space and three windows, to accommodate a crew of three and three space guests. The proto-hotels Genesis I and Genesis II have already been launched into low Earth orbit, the latter with a cadre of minuscule organisms, in order to pave the way for future human visitors.
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