Market Overview

Hotel in the Heavens?

Reminiscent of scenes from the epic film "2001: A Space Odyssey", hotels in space appear to be on the horizon and coming in the near future.

According to www.guardian.co.uk, Russian engineers from the Russian company Orbital Technologies are planning on putting a space hotel in orbit 200 miles above the planet Earth by 2016. Dubbed "Hotel in the Heavens", the celestial inn would have four rooms and house up to seven guests. Tourists wishing to spend a vacation in this space hotel would have to pay £500,000 (USD$818,000) just to journey up to the station before paying another £100,000 (USD$163,000) for the transcendent tenure of a whole five days in orbit.

Far from margaritas and martinis, the liquid nourishment of the wealthy spacefaring hotel patrons would be limited to iced tea and fruit juices. Any alcohol will be banned. According to the article, the diet of the tourists would be "food prepared on Earth and reheated in microwave ovens, while showers will be carefully sealed...to prevent water escaping as globules that otherwise would float around the hotel's interior."

It hardly sounds like a vacation made in heaven, but "views of the Earth from the space hotel's special observation windows should be breathtaking as the craft whizzes round our planet every 90 minutes -- providing guests with 16 sunsets and 16 sunrises a day". If the idea of a space hotel is developed further in the future, this could give a whole new meaning to going on a "honeymoon".

Hopefully, Orbital Technologies will remember to put motion sickness bags in this Hotel in the Heavens. Aside from the magnificent view and magic of weightlessness, personally I think the experience sounds a bit claustrophobic and nauseating. But for a millionaire or billionaire the experience may be well worth the hefty price-tag...and of course, the obviously "astronomical" number of risks involved in getting up there, staying in an orbiting capsule for five days with heaven-knows-who, and coming back down to solid ground.

In a similar spacefaring venture for wealthy customers, in 2012 Virgin Galactic is expected to be offering suborbital flights where passengers can experience low gravity for a few minutes before the craft descends back to Earth. A ticket on the space flight is expected to cost $200,000 per flight.

So much for not building castles in the sky. It is good to see that organizations are taking steps towards space exploration and colonization. Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking has previously commented that mankind's only chance of long-term survival is to colonize space. Stephen Hawking: "Our future is in space." Okay, so maybe a space flight or a quaint, orbiting hotel is not jetting across the galaxy faster than the speed of light as spacefarers do in Star Trek or Star Wars, but hey, it's a start.

The longest journey begins with the first step, and maybe a cramped space hotel or low-gravity flight are the first steps towards space colonization -- or at the very least, space commercialization. Science fiction writers of the past had some high hopes for humanity's development in space, and history suggests that their forecasts of space colonization may have been a bit off. It is as if we're living in the year 2011, and yet we haven't even made it to "2001" yet. No revolving, artificial-gravity space stations, no moon mining expeditions, no moon outposts, no manned journeys to Jupiter, no monoliths. Even still, I have high hopes for humanity. Nevertheless, if humanity really does want to pursue long-term survival via space colonization, we have a long way to go.

Eh, give me a call when they start constructing a Stanford torus. A Stanford torus would be a massive, donut-shaped space station that would be capable of housing thousands of permanent residents. The interior of such a station could be a simulated natural environment housing residents in a fashion similar to suburban housing with gardens, pools, etc. Owing to the donut-shaped station constantly revolving in space, artificial gravity could be maintained for residents living on the station. A Stanford torus up in outer space? Now that would be a castle in the sky.

ACTION ITEMS:

Bullish:
Traders who believe that space hotels are going to be common in the future like in "2001: A Space Odyssey" might want to consider the following trades:

  • Go long on Marriott International (NYSE: MAR), Intercontinental Hotels Group plc (NYSE: IHG), and the Marcus Corporation (NYSE: MCS).
  • Also look into Orbital Sciences Corp. (NYSE: ORB), Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT), and The Boeing Company (NYSE: BA).

Bearish:
Traders who believe that space hotels, space colonization, and space commercialization are futile and will be brought back down to Earth in due time may consider an alternate position:

  • Look into buying some old-fashioned real estate on the planet Earth if you believe that we're never going to make it off this rock.

Neither Benzinga nor its staff recommend that you buy, sell, or hold any security. We do not offer investment advice, personalized or otherwise. Benzinga recommends that you conduct your own due diligence and consult a certified financial professional for personalized advice about your financial situation.

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