Space Scam


There is a company claiming to be opening a hotel in space — a great big spinning wheel like the space station in 2001: A Space Odyssey. There are a few clues that it’s actually a great big fake.

The first is that they claim that they’ll be opening the first hotel in 2025. You know, sometime within the next two years? Only they don’t have a lick of work done on the project yet.

Then they claim they’ll be opening a second, even larger space hotel in 2027. The first will accommodate 28 guests (or is it 280? The number varies with the source) and the second will house 400.

The rooms will be luxurious. This is far bigger than any cabin on an earthbound cruise ship.

So much room! Such big windows! Such thin walls separating you from the cold vacuum and hard radiation of space!

The founder of the company, John Blincow, is a former airline pilot, lacking any training in the sciences or engineering. He seems to have spent the last 20 years founding companies with big dreams that don’t do anything.

The company seems to have scaled down their promises. Their old ad copy says the goal is to build a space station-shaped hotel near a Disney theme park. That was in 2021. They don’t seem to have done it.

The original company seems to make money, not from engineering, but from computer dating.

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The new company, Orbital Assembly, seems to change their name fairly regularly. There’s nothing on their web page about a space hotel, but they did get a $1.7 million contract from the Space Force to build something. Communications gear? It’s kind of fuzzy.

Somehow, this “space hotel” gets promoted in newspaper articles/ads (hard to tell them apart) every year for the last few years. The latest was just a month ago, still making the same incredible claims every time, and always with the same opening year.

Scammers gotta scam, but it’s still appalling how news media, from CNN to Business Insider to MSN, are falling for it. Maybe they’ll get competent editors someday.

P.S. They’re also suggesting that a weekend stay in a space hotel would cost about $5 million. No mention of funeral costs, cancer treatments after the visit, etc. That’s all extra.

Comments

  1. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    A hotel in space? That’ll come in handy for when I want to vacation in a deadly vacuum.

  2. Reginald Selkirk says

    Their old ad copy says the goal is to build a space station-shaped hotel near a Disney theme park.

    It’s a hotel in inner space, not outer space. So they’re not actually lying by calling it a “space hotel.”

  3. Dennis K says

    @3 – Never mind that the glue attaching it to the wall is failing. Or that the blanket on that bed is barely adequate for a small poodle. Or that grandpa has to walk around with a NASA-approved torso assembly strapped to his back.

    And I guess the company invented star-trekian “inertial dampeners” when we weren’t looking? From the shape of the room and the orientation of the Earth, the spin axis of this hotel must be pointing in a weird direction.

  4. chrislawson says

    To be fair, the radiation exposure from a weekend in LEO is not that bad. The total radiation for ISS astronauts is about 100 mSv over 6 months. So for a 2-day visit, that would be about 1.1 mSv total. This is roughly the same as a thoracic spine Xray (pdf).

    The problem for astronauts is that they may be exposed for long periods, although the observed cancer rates are not all that different to population average, with the exception of melanoma. (The authors note that there may be bias here in that astronauts tend to be fitter, healthier, and have fewer lifestyle cancer risks than the average person.)

  5. robro says

    Per the link, here’s what Orbital Assembly is building for the US Space Force to the tune of $1.7 million: “In the Direct to Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Award, Orbital Assembly will develop an efficient, lightweight structure to support solar panels, large power, and communications antenna arrays as well as other space infrastructure functions.”

    I take it that the “Direct to Phase II” program is an attempt to funnel money into small businesses rather than the usual big names in aerospace.

    The structure may be related to the “Demonstrator Structural Truss Assembly Robot, or DSTAR system” described in this article. Per the article, “The team demonstrated in June by assembling a six-ton truss — or a large structure made up of beams and braces — and expanded it to the length of a football field.”

    From my perspective the scam isn’t building a structural truss, or even the idea of a space hotel per se. However, building a hotel of any size in low-earth orbit with artificial gravity by 2027…no way.

  6. says

    2001 was a good movie introducing lots of innovations. This is just a detail, but, the ‘big spoked wheel’ space station was first presented to us by Willy Ley in the 1950’s.

    The trip to get to the space hotel will not be fun or cheap. Will this space hotel rent rooms by the hour? How many imbecile billionaires can we maroon up there? Oh, wait, by then they will all be on Mars! Such Grand Delusions!

    And, regarding the return trip, as Bill Dana said in the 45 record ‘The Astronaut’ when asked if provisions had been made to get him back to earth, “Back to Earth, Yes, Nevada,, . . . but, just how far into it?” fun stuff.

  7. says

    None of us are perfect. Being pedantic, or just desiring accurate communication? But, don’t you love it when people use foolish terminology. RE:news.abovespaceDOTcom (WTF is ‘above space’??) It’s like saying ‘below the ocean’. Which would technically put you buried in silt below the ocean floor.

  8. Reginald Selkirk says

    @5 Dennis K
    Or that grandpa has to walk around with a NASA-approved torso assembly strapped to his back.

    Yeah, I spent a minute on that too before deciding the guy has his suit jacket slung over his shoulder, in a way which wouldn’t work in microgravity.

  9. wzrd1 says

    I dunno, if all of the components were already ready for lift and assembly, it could be built by 2027. Not pressurized and operational, just barely built. As in big chunks assembled together, fuck all if I know where they’d get the insane amount of money to lift so many heavy assemblies though.
    But, when their advertisement clearly shows a 1G environment that’s 90 degrees in the wrong direction, yeah, beyond a total scam.
    Which only makes me wish he’d meet the same results Bob Crane met.

  10. moarscienceplz says

    “How are they going to keep the jizz from coating every surface in the place?”
    Just like every hotel on Earth: they aren’t.

  11. wzrd1 says

    moarscienceplz @ 15, so you’ve shined a black light over a hotel room too?
    Yeah, I actually have. Suffice it to say, I actually considered getting some ethylene oxide – then igniting it inside of the room. But, upon deeper consideration, I’d have swiftly ran out of hotels.
    And it ain’t just spunk. My wife cleaned hotel rooms for a while. Scat isn’t uncommon, nor of all things, urine on the fucking ceiling.
    Perhaps people should only be allowed to occupy hotel rooms after various corks are inserted into every orifice…

    Still, space… The Final Frontier. And precisely what is between the investors motherfucking ears.

    Oh, I should qualify my @ 14. That’s assuming 24/7/365 assembly, with zero pauses waiting for components to be boosted from the surface and still, without function within the time frame. No spin up, obviously not fueled or watered or given an atmosphere, might get powered partially. Just together and not even air loose, let alone airtight. Assuming all components are assembled and boosted into orbit in close proximity to the desired clusterfuck of a station.
    And likely, it’ll RUD on spin up, as resonance issues, stretch and sag issues and a fuck ton more issues are obviously gonna happen once it’s pressurized, then adding spin up, Kessler ensues.
    But, I’ll happily design such a station/hotel for nobody. It’ll be ludicrously massive, impressively and insanely huge and just outside of the capabilities of current engineering to actually construct due to stress factors. So, it’ll happily await the newest version of unobtanium to construct it out of. And it’ll be fully self-sustaining for oxygen/CO2 scrubbing organically and capable of feeding a population, all via hand wave.
    After all, hand waves are bigger than the mighty microwave. ;)
    And by the time unobtanium comes along, people that actually know what they’re doing would fix my goat screw of a design.
    And my qualifications are superior to the proposal seller. I’ve worked metals, worked in electronics (industrial, computer and consumer electronics, as well as some power handling experience), some aerospace experience in actually building things that go aloft and keep a craft aloft, hold an ancient NASA soldering certificate (trust me, that’s a royal gonad pain to earn!) and have a clue about how incompetent I am at designing space fucking stations.

  12. John Morales says

    chrislawson, from the link PZ cited:
    No, you won’t be floating around and using vacuum toilets. In fact, Orbital Assembly promises that the resorts will “leverage the technologies of Space and the comforts of Earth to create a unique experience unparalleled in history.” Not only that, but they’ll have “simulated gravity” and therefore all the Earthly comforts you’re used to like showers and flushing toilets.”

  13. Alan G. Humphrey says

    hemidactylus @ 21
    Haven’t you ever shot a rubber band across the room by hooking it over your index finger and pulling back with the other hand? So, imagine…

  14. hemidactylus says

    Alan G. Humphrey @26 and chrislawson @23

    Do we need to have an episode of MythBusters to explode this one? With all the fine minds on this thread the mystery could be solved. I don’t think it possible even with a ladder. Maybe in a low gravity situation. But here on Earth there must be realistic limits. I hate to be the despunker but this myth has gone on long enough.

  15. Alan G. Humphrey says

    hemidactylus @ 28
    I guess I have to actually spell it out. A used prophylactic, filled with semen, thrown at the ceiling, taking several attempts to get the contents to disperse, will leave a stain on the ceiling, unless it has been tied off (the prophylactic that is). With a ladder, a nail, and a hammer one could actually secure the semen filled prophylactic to the ceiling. If you actually think no American men have ever thrown used condoms around a motel room after a wild night of sex and drugs…

    … no wait. As an exercise, to try at home for your own edification, just take any sock you may possess, it doesn’t even need to be soiled, and toss it at a nearby ceiling. If, perchance, it does make contact with said ceiling, your mythconception should be cleared up now. If after several tries you always myth the ceiling, then you will know where you stand in comparison to Trump in the throwing department.

  16. wzrd1 says

    hemidactylus, for construction, it’s barely possible – assuming some construction is already in progress on the ground and well, scams infrequently employ construction.
    As to spew, witnessed the results in a hotel room. I’ll continue to refrain from how that occurred.
    Some things don’t incur imagination and, erm, issuance.
    But, I’ll say that the Star Spangled Banner does have some hotel issuance, via UV and some reagents.
    Now, please excuse me while I vomit.

  17. hemidactylus says

    Alan G. Humphrey @29
    I had not considered that now obvious possibility. Egads. I guess I had a too naive view of people and wouldn’t think someone would actually do that…would versus could. Now I am glad I don’t stay in motels/hotels very often and want to keep it that way.

    There are times morning me regrets questions asked by nighttime me. This is one of those moments.

  18. John Morales says

    StevoR, took me a few seconds to find out by looking at Wikipedia:

    In March 2020, the company laid off all 88 of its employees due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and planned to rehire staff when conditions permitted.[8] As of December 2023 the company remains dormant and is often considered defunct.

    Obs, Bigelow is no Musk.

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