Hilton Hotels has signed on to design the crew lodging and hospitality suites in the Starlab, one of three stations in the running to replace the International Space Station (ISS) that is set to retire no earlier than 2031.
The partnership is with Voyager, which has set out to construct a large inflatable habitat that is set to launch in 2027 – and it is using $130 million from NASA to make it happen.
The announcement, however, does not reveal details of the rooms, but states Hilton’s suites will make ‘extended stays more comfortable.’
This would be a major change from the living quarters on the ISS, which is said to be as cozy as a five bedroom house. However, it can sometimes house 13 crew members and large amounts of equipment, making it feel more like a crowded space.
Dylan Taylor, Chairman and CEO, Voyager Space, said in a statement: ‘Starlab will be more than just a destination, it will be an experience made infinitely more unique and artful with the Hilton team’s infusion of innovation, expertise, and global reach.
‘Voyager and Hilton are acutely 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 was awarded $160 million by NASA is up against the Blue Origin-led project called Orbital and a Northrup Grumman platform based on its Cygnus spacecraft.
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 the bulk of funding from commercial sources.
The chosen station will be used by NASA, and other government agencies, as well as private sector customers, including for tourism.
Chris Nassetta, president and CEO of Hilton, said in a statement: ‘Hilton has been innovating to improve the guest experience and pioneering new destinations for travel for more than a century. We are thrilled to partner with Voyager to bring that expertise to Starlab.
‘For decades, discoveries in space have been positively impacting life on Earth, and now Hilton will have an opportunity to use this unique environment to improve the guest experience wherever people travel.
‘This landmark collaboration underscores our deep commitment to spreading the light and warmth of hospitality and providing a friendly, reliable stay – whether on the ground or in outer space.’
Voyager and Hilton will partner in the areas of architecture and design, leveraging Hilton’s word-class creative design and innovation experts, to develop Space Hospitality crew headquarters aboard Starlab, including communal areas, hospitality suites, and sleeping arrangements for the astronauts.
Additionally, the teams will seek to explore opportunities together for longer-term efforts including the ground-to-space astronaut experience, global co-marketing and branding, and other tourism, educational, and commercial efforts.
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 fostering commercial industrial activity.’
The habitat is designed for four astronauts and will have power, volume, and a payload capability 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 metallic docking node, a power and propulsion element, a large robotic arm for servicing cargo and payloads, and the George Washington Carver (GWC) Science Park.
The GWC Science Park is a state-of-the-art laboratory system which will host a comprehensive research, science, and manufacturing capability.
‘Starlab is the confluence of Lockheed Martin’s rich space expertise and history, Nanoracks’ innovation, and Voyager’s financial savvy,’ said Lisa Callahan from Lockheed Martin.
‘This team is equipped to aid NASA on its mission to expand access to LEO and to enable a transformative commercial space economy.’
Blue Origin Orbital Reef is being designed to be a ‘mixed-use space business park’ that provides essential infrastructure needed to support all types of human spaceflight activity in low-Earth orbit and can be scaled to serve new markets, according to the group.
Northrop Grumman has yet to name its upcoming space station, but says it is designed to be a modular, commercial destination in low-Earth orbit.
The design leverages flight-proven elements, such as the Cygnus spacecraft that provides cargo delivery to the International Space Station and will be able to support four crew members at any one time.