Today we have great news for anyone who is looking to get away from it all, and by it “all,” we mean literally everything — human beings, air, gravity …
“Gravity keeping you down? Come to our space hotel!”
Yes, it seems that a company called “Orion Span” is planning on building a hotel in orbit, 200 miles above the earth. This is a great getaway idea for people who have already been everywhere on earth that they want to go, or at least where there is not a crazy unexpected amount of antisemitism, so they can go see if there’s any crazy unexpected antisemitism in space.
Orion is calling it “the first luxury hotel in space.” They specifically put in that adjective — “luxury” — to differentiate it from all of those cheapskate space motels floating around, where they charge extra for oxygen, which they then give to you in a tank that you have to wear the whole 12 days.
And yes, each trip will be 12 earth days, which is just enough time to come home and forget how to walk. You get off the spaceship and collapse at the gate. And then you keep dropping things on the floor for a month because you forgot how gravity works.
The initial phase of the hotel, which is supposed to launch (this was not my pun) in 2021, will be 44 feet long and 14 feet in diameter, and will hold up to six whole passengers, two of whom will be professional astronaut guides.
“That’s earth over there,” the guides will say, pointing. Then someone will snap a picture.
Until now, going to space was pretty much limited to professionals. But now you, too, can go to space, provided you go through training first. But the training is shorter — three months as opposed to several years — because they’re going to send two people up with you who know what all the buttons do. The rest of you can just float around bumping into things, so you just have to learn the basic things such as how to sneeze in space. And just in case you do, one of your guides is also a doctor.
You also probably learn things like how to keep your glasses on. And how to eat soup. And how to not breathe so much. Because I’m no scientist, but I’m not sure how a capsule that small can hold 12 days’ worth of oxygen for six people, four of whom will be hyperventilating the entire time.
But for comparison, most hotels require almost no training, although you do flounder around for the first five minutes trying to figure out how to turn on all the lamps.
Orion also keeps stressing that this hotel is, quote, “affordable.” The cost comes out to $9.5 million a person, so that’s super-affordable. There’s only room for four guests, though, so if you’re looking to spend more than $40 million on this vacation, you’re out of luck.
To be fair, a trip on the International Space Station costs $40 million per person, and they don’t let you touch anything.
The downside is that on your tuition-assistance form where it says, “Where have you gone for vacation lately and how much did you spend?” you might have to just write, “It was super-affordable!” or something.
So this is definitely something we should all do. Imagine a 12-day vacation, carefree, except that you’re not allowed to leave your hotel room the entire time. Also, the hotel is moving. So I guess it’s more like being confined to your hotel room during tornado season, and your hotel is circling the earth, and you can’t leave it, and you have to figure out how to sleep as you fly around with your arms floating upward, like you’re having a dream that you’re being mugged.
It’s also great for a small company team-building retreat if you want everyone to hate everyone else by the end.
Yes, flying somewhere on earth would be more conventional, but would you rather be stuck on a plane with 200 people and six armrests? And all their crazy policies and add-on charges? Take the story, a couple of years back, about a man in the UK who weighed 37 stone, or 518 pounds (a stone weighs 14 pounds), who was forced to buy two seats on a plane on the way back from Ireland, under the logic that heavier passengers use more fuel, but when he got there, he realized that the airline had given him one seat in row 17 and the other in row 19.
How was that supposed to work?
“Oh, we didn’t know you wanted to sit together.”
“No, I wanted to sit apart.”
And if you think that was bad, on the way to Ireland they actually gave him two seats in the same row, but one was a window seat and the other was an aisle seat, and the row had three seats.
You might feel bad for him, but I feel bad for the guy in the middle seat.
So the good thing about this new vacation idea is that at least weight isn’t a problem in space. Losing your luggage might be, though.
“Was it in that part of the rocket that we jettisoned on the way up? Because we’re never seeing that again.”
“OK,” you’re asking, “but what do you even do up there for 12 days, besides constantly put little soaps and shampoos into your luggage?”
Well, for one, you can look out the window. According to press materials, you get to experience a sunrise and a sunset every 90 minutes! So be prepared to spend the entire time davening.
“I’m going to be davening the whole time anyway,” you’re saying.
To break it down, though, that’s an hour for Shacharis and 15 minutes each for Minchah and Ma’ariv. And if you say, “It doesn’t take me an hour to daven Shacharis,” bear in mind that you’re going to spend most of that time trying to keep your tallis on.
NOTE: I actually mentioned this davening line to my wife, and she said that she’d heard that it might go by the zemanim of whatever location you left from. Because apparently, this she’eilah came up at a women’s halachah shiur.
I really have to start going to these women’s halachah shiurim.
Though in truth, she said that it didn’t quite come up like that. She actually heard this from a friend who had gone on an Alaskan cruise at a time of the year when the sun doesn’t really set. (This is a lot better than going at a time of the year when the sun doesn’t really rise.) So she’d had exactly this she’eilah, but from the other extreme. Point is, if you are going to space, I would say to ask your local rabbi, depending on how you define “local.”
You also might want to ask him about the minyan situation in the first place. I do remember learning that if you’re a certain distance from the nearest minyan, then you don’t have to drive yourself crazy to get there, and I’m pretty sure that 200 miles qualifies as that distance. Even if actually traveling those 200 miles would only take you about five minutes.
But in addition, if you need a break from looking up insane halachah she’eilos with sefarim floating all around you and not being able to keep from losing the place in any of them, there’s also a room with huge screens that allow you to FaceTime your friends and your rav. Plus your mother is going to want you to call when you get there.
You would also be able to take part in some amazing space experiments, such as taking a shower, or, quote, “growing food, which you can take back to earth as the ultimate souvenir.” You can see if plants grow the same way that they do on earth, or if they grow downward. I don’t know. It’s all rainy-day activities. It’s like this vacation is for a very small niche — people who are bored by everything on earth, but want to get up to space so they can watch plants grow.
My guess is that there are other experiments, too. I think they mention the plant thing because all the other space experiments these days involve mice and earthworms and squids and microbes, and seeing as you’re going to be in a tiny tube with these things for 12 days, that wouldn’t be a great advertisement for this hotel.
“I don’t know. Would you prefer we brought bigger animals?”
Yeah, maybe. Bring something like frogs, so we can watch them float around and be all confused. Or we can bring birds and hold them over the earth so that they look down and think, “Whoa, I flew way too high.” Or you can bring a cat up there and see if he lands on his feet, or if he lands at all, or what happens when you have a confused, terrified cat swirling around in an enclosed space with six people for 12 days.
That’s where the doctor would come in.
So come to think of it, $9 nine million is probably not a lot, especially once you realize that, for example, there’s a person who is both an astronaut and a doctor, and he’s taking 12 days off to babysit you on the off chance that you might get sick in a place where there are naturally no germs.
Wait. Maybe you’re the experiment.
Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of six books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to MSchmutter@gmail.com.