Experimental space hotel hurtled into orbit

Although we're not quite ready to pony up for a ticket to space just yet, billionaire Robert Bigelow is thinking way into the future by trialing a space hotel. Dubbed Genesis II, the inflatable module could eventually be used as a "hotel in space" or double as a manned space station, and considering that it only inflates once it settles in orbit, the cost of launching is substantially decreased. The experimental craft was successfully launched on board a Russian rocket, and has since established communications and "beamed back a series of images of its expanding solar panels." This endeavor is just the beginning, however, as Bigelow envisions a "full-scale space hotel" to be named Nautilus, and if you're interested in helping out (and making $50 million on the side), you've got three years to "design a craft capable of carrying five people to a height of 250 miles."

[Image courtesy of Bigelow Aerospace]