If you wanted to build a space hotel, say with 500 rooms, how many people (excluding hotel guests) would have to be permanently on that space station?

I'm assuming getting into space is safe and unproblematic, yet still expensive and time consuming, so "normal" rich people would book at such a hotel (the same type that would book e.g. on luxury cruising ships).

I figure you'd need the following groups of people:

  • Normal hotel personnel (room service, cleaning, restaurant crew, etc.).

  • Extra services which we would not normally consider part of a hotel, but which we would need to have available (medical service/emergency room, fire service, space station police, anything else?).

  • Extra services/infrastructure for personnel (because they can't just go to the shop or cheap restaurant around the corner).

  • Those actually operating the space station (maintaining space station technology, keeping the space station in the correct place in orbit, controlling the rotation for artificial gravity, ...).

However I don't find out how to get data even for the first point. So, what would be a reasonable number of people working in that space hotel?

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ There's a bit of a self-reinforcing loop here. The more expensive and time consuming spacetravel is, the more cushy luxury guests will expect their stay to be, and the more staff you will need, making things even more expensive. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Nov 23 '14 at 1:11
  • $\begingroup$ Are you postulating a space station that consists only of the luxury hotel, as opposed to a luxury hotel built on a station that is also serving other purposes (trade, commerce, research lab, etc)? If the latter, then the hotel shares the need for some of those services (like fire/police) with other occupants of the station. $\endgroup$ Nov 23 '14 at 1:42
  • $\begingroup$ @CortAmmon: Good point. However I guess you'd reach an equilibrium, because a lot of the additional things would cost less than the space travel per se. And some exclusive attractions (like weightlessness to be experienced near the axis and the rather unique view of earth you have from space) will come for free. $\endgroup$
    – celtschk
    Nov 23 '14 at 10:54
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @MonicaCellio: Yes, I assume the space station is just the luxury hotel. Trade in space would probably be basically nonexistent at that point (since there are not that many people in space you could trade with). A research station or an "off-planet data center" could be included, but I don't think they would significantly change the number of inhabitants anyway. Some commerce would probably be part of the station, so the hotel guests can go shopping there (possibly duty-free). But I'd include that in the extra services above; basically I'm after the total number of people on the station. $\endgroup$
    – celtschk
    Nov 23 '14 at 11:03
  • $\begingroup$ As some of the answers have noted, how many people you need working there depends on how sophisticated and reliable automation and robots are. $\endgroup$
    – KSmarts
    Jan 15 '15 at 15:13

I don't think it's going to be all that many (i.e.: the 366 quoted).

Also, you're going to have single workers, and pay them a bunch - or you're going to have to move families for long-term contract types.

Top chefs, administrators, and some other people might need to get the family contract. But the rest you can assume are just out-of-college, under 40 and single - doing a high-paying gig (like oil-rig workers) and then going back to civilization.

Also, robots. A lot of stuff can be done now (e.g.: automated bathroom cleaning, roomba, etc) via automation, and probably more in the not-too-distant future.

But, rich people may be paying in order to have 'servants' do things for them - i.e.: the human touch.

So, it also becomes a question of why are people going to the hotel in the first place? Is this in earth orbit? Or is it near something/some place that people want to go to? Distance (both time and space) from other people is a factor in how many people you need.

You're definitely going to have to have exterior maintenance people. People who check the rockets (you're going to have to be able to move the thing for space debris), as well as hull integrity, power management, etc, etc.

I don't think you're going to have landing bays and stuff. Use existing space-shuttle docking plans - no extra crew or people for that, the people flying the shuttle are perfectly capable of docking. You might want one flight controller (who can probably do double duty doing something else for the rest of the time - how many flights a day do you expect? i.e.: how long do people book their hotel rooms for?).

You're going to need guest services people. Singers, dancers, bed-warmers (ahem, probably double-duty if it's not an explicit job), microgravity coaches/team members, etc. A lot of those people could be double-duty with other tasks - but some are going to be single-duty (prima dona singers/musicians, for example).

You'll have to have cooks if it's a stand-alone hotel. I doubt there are pizza delivery places in space. Unless you're near enough (transit time) to other places, it's going to have to be part of your complex. Automated meals are only so-so, unless you have amazing technology (nano-assemblers/replicators) - and people often like to see people making their food (often).

Do you count crew of ships and ground facilities? You'll need a ton of people on the ground to handle stuff, you'll also need pilots, ground control, fueling specialists, repair guys and such (and marketing, sales, and...). But people sleep on the space-shuttle, and if space-flight is cheap and easy, there's no need to have pilots bunking on-station - they just de-orbit (assuming less than 12-14 hours. on-duty) and go home for the day. Your emergency pilots (if needed) can be double-duty staff. But, you don't even need pilots if you're in Earth orbit - just give them re-entry capsules, and tell them to get in and the computer handles the re-entry.

You will need trained emergency staff - but that could be part of every worker's job. You're going to have to pay these workers very well (assuming no orbital society to draw workers from), but since you're paying them very well, you can also require them to be very skilled. Everyone knows how to fight fires, handle decompressions, basic medical care, etc.

Speaking of medical care, you're going to need a set of physicians (round-the-clock staffing, and emergency staffing: probably minimum of 2-3, and more likely 4-6: assuming skilled nursing double-duty types are available to triage/help). You're far away from any medical care, and space is dangerous. Assuming no automation to take care of that. Telemedicine will only work in Earth orbit, otherwise the lightspeed delays will make a hash of any operation not run by a skilled program. You don't need a full hospital, but you do need an emergency room - and people who are able to take direction from tele-doctors.

Depending how rich your clients are, you may need some bulky security staffing.
You may have weapon systems on your hotel, to prevent hostage-taking / takeover attempts.

You'll definitely need a house detective or two. But those might be double-duty - especially so to handle internal theft, etc. One or two of those may be posing as guests, if so you'll lose a room or two of capacity, since they should be treated exactly as guests.

You don't need any yard/landscaping workers. It's possible that your maintenance crew is minimal (i.e.: emergency repairs only), and you bring up skilled workers to handle over-hauls and bigger jobs / routine maintenance - all that happens on scheduled intervals and/or on contract, so you wouldn't count them as part of your normal staff. They might even bunk in their maintenance vehicle and never come in your hotel most of the time. Interior repair people, yeah, different story.

Unless there's something to see in the local area, you're not going to need drivers for hotel-shuttles that would normally take you to and from the airport or to and from the symphony. Just your dedicated transit shuttle pilots. If there is something to see in the local area, it's possible your other staff can double-duty. Nor are you going to need valet parking :D

You're not really going to need a lobby person - if there's nowhere to go in the local area, and flights come in at scheduled times. There's no random dropping in by people with their own space-yachts. If there is, then you may need to staff that. But with a flight controller, you'll see them coming / have warning to pull someone out of another area and go down and greet them. It's not like someone pulling into the roundabout from the road. It'll take a moment (/snark) for them to dock, and you'll probably have at least 30 minutes of warning by radar that someone's headed your way (esp. if you have weapons & security).

After adding and subtracting those categories, call up your local posh hotel and ask how many workers they have.

  • $\begingroup$ I disagree about the landing bays. When the Space Shuttle was preparing to dock to the ISS, those inside the station weren't just sitting back. They were preparing for docking. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868
    Nov 23 '14 at 22:36
  • $\begingroup$ Security could be done at Earth; i.e., extended airport security, with the possibility to register your valuables. As for now, terrorists and criminals don't have the means to hijack your station without going on one of your flights. You'll only need a bouncer for your spacebar (pun intended) $\endgroup$
    – Sanchises
    Jan 15 '15 at 14:39
  • $\begingroup$ ISS is pretty small compared to a space hotel, and the shuttle is pretty large comparatively. For example the orbiter crews more people than the ISS. No luxury accommodations on the ISS. No pool (huge mass). Etc. Besides a landing bay is nothing but a bad idea, place to wreck by coming in too fast, to blow up with engine misfiring, waste of space (most of the time), etc, etc. A landing bay for a mechanic's shop makes (nominal) sense. But, flights are cheap and easy, so you don't need a repair bay in your hotel. Send a tow-truck. $\endgroup$
    – user3082
    Jan 15 '15 at 14:53
  • $\begingroup$ Security is an issue, if flights are cheap. If you're doing it for cheap, then other people could do it for (reasonably) cheap too. Unless you've got a lock on the technology. But if that's the case, why're you running a hotel? $\endgroup$
    – user3082
    Jan 15 '15 at 14:55
  • $\begingroup$ All right; you convinced me. :-) $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868
    Jan 16 '15 at 0:28

Here are the people you would need:

  • Those operating flights to and from the space hotel. (Perhaps two pilots per ship, five other crew members, and a host of people on the ground (100-ish?)) But only the crew members would be staying at the hotel, and even then only for a short period. So seven crew members per ship.
  • Those coordinating the flights from the safety of the hotel. I'd guess that you'd need at least 10 people for this, although that could vary, depending on the number of flights.
  • Technicians and landing-bay workers. Let's say five people per ship, with a negligible number of auxiliary workers.
  • Those involved in keeping the station in orbit, and communicating with ground control. These are the top guys in charge, as well as those reporting to them. I'd estimate twenty-five or so to deal with all the aspects of keeping the thing where it's supposed to be.
  • Extra services-people. I don't think we'd need a lot of them. Emergency tasks could be automated (i.e. the equivalent of sprinkler systems, which would have to be modified for microgravity). This would still need a lot of humans, so I'd guess about 25 emergency workers. The crew would also be trained to handle emergencies.
  • Normal hotel workers. A concierge or two, managers, lobby people, cooks (which many hotels have), cleaners, etc. I would think these would be in the range of a few hundred - we'll go with 200. On a space station, they'd need to know a range of trades to reduce the number of people needed.

With 500 rooms (yikes!) meaning perhaps 1000 people, and an average stay of maybe one week, you could swap out 1000 per week. Let's assume the shuttle to the station can fit 25 people. That's 40 flights a week (about 6 per day). Assuming that the pilots only make one trip a day (i.e. a two-day round trip), that means they can make 3.5 flights per week. So you need 11 crews, at least, plus a backup one or two - 77 total people. 6 shuttles in the station mean you need five technicians in each bay, so perhaps 30 total. Let's do the addition: $$77 + 10 + 30 + 25 + 25 + 200 = 367$$ So you'd need 367 people.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Minor mistake - it's 367 not 366 $\endgroup$
    – ArtOfCode
    Jan 15 '15 at 14:19

If you wanted to build a space hotel, say with 500 rooms, how many people (excluding hotel guests) would have to be permanently on that space station?

For a solitary exclusive luxury hotel:

  • 1 Hotel Manager
  • 3 Assistant Hotel Managers (24 hrs, overall manager when hotel manager isn't there.)
  • 1 Marketing and Advertising
  • 2 Accountants
  • 1 Purchaser
  • 1 Event Planner
  • 3 Supervisor of Guest Services (24 hrs, basically assistant manager for housekeeping, etc.)
  • 1 Front Desk Supervisor
  • 3 Front Desk Clerks/Receptionists (24 hrs, port activity sets number with low end being 3 and busy-bank activity levels being 9)
  • 3 Porters/Bellhops (assuming checking in and giving a rundown of services takes 15 minutes you have port activity per hour divided by 4 with a minimum of 3 (which we take because we're at 500 rooms with 7 day stays))
  • 1 Head Concierge
  • 6 Concierges (24 hrs desk service plus 1 helper on-hand for longer requests)
  • 1 Housekeeping Supervisor
  • 3 Phone Guest Services (24 hrs, calling for room service, etc. others will probably do this job as well but I expect you have at least 1 dedicated phone person at every hour to prevent a busy line.)
  • 19 Housekeepers (do 22-30 rooms a shift so: Rooms/26)

  • 1 Restaurant Manager

  • 3 Hosts/Ushers/Maitre de (24 hrs)
  • 1 Kitchen Manager
  • 1 Executive/Head Chef (meal planning and management)
  • 3 Sous Chefs (24 hrs)
  • ~18 Line Cooks (grill, sauté, fryer, expo, pantry, pastry, etc.)
  • ~3 Prep Cooks
  • 3 Dishwashers (24 hrs, 1 per restaurant)
  • 43 Servers/Waiter/Waitress (assuming everyone wants breakfast and subtracting phone service staff since a good amount of orders will be over the phone, you'll need almost the same amount for dinner and less for lunch)

    • Calculations: (breakfast from 6-10 assuming a normal distribution with 4.4% ordering breakfast at 6 or before (-2σ) then 8 should be our peak with an order time taking an average of 5 minutes from order to table (since each standard deviation is an hour then we go from -(5/60)/2 to (5/60)/2 standard deviations in our formula to get 3.3% of our hotel for our peak rush .033*500 for breakfast we'll round up to get a whole person, dinner down because we need less, and we'll take an arbitrary 80% of dinner for lunch for 17+16+13 - 3 phone people)
  • 3 Room Service (to cover the phone people we subtract from the Servers, larger square footage may require more. Will probably steal people from other areas.)

  • 13 Medical (There are 14 surgical specialties, 1 anesthesia technician, 1 dentist, 3 general practitioners, 1 Internist (Doctor of Internal Medicine), and 3 Nurses. I'll assume we only have 1 neurosurgeon and 3 general for the 24 hr shift cycle.)

  • 3 Security (I couldn't find an equation that worked for all cities but all the ones I did look at suggested <1 security guard for less than 1500 people no matter the crime rate or population density, so we fill all the shifts and get 3. My own town has no police and 1 contracted so it's possible you only have 1 security officer and he's just on call.)
  • 3 Fire (probably the same as security for arson and medic response. Will appear less as more are volunteers.)
  • 3 Port Technician:

    • Mechanics get paid by the hour and each job has a book time that they get paid a fee for. Claims made on crashes average 2,950 dollars in the US and make up 90% of mechanic work. The other 10% has a large range in time so we'll ignore it for now (routine maintenance to complete overhauls). Mechanics make a median 36,610 per year @ 17.60 per hour so we have about 2,080 hrs of work per year which is an 8 hour day. There's ~5,615,000 police reported crashes a year and if we assume they all file a claim (some won't, but some will file that weren't reported which should make up for that) then @ 127-253 million cars you get .022 crashes/car which takes up 90% so add in an extra 0.0024. At max hours per vehicle you see 0.36666 hours per car which takes up 70% of the work load so 0.5238 hrs per car and since construction vehicles take 5x that we'll multiply by an arbitrary 15 instead to get 7.86 hrs per starship, so for every starship that visits yearly we could expect to get 8 hrs of work a year. If we have a dedicated ship for each room you have 500 ships (+1 for supplies). That gives us enough work hours for 2 mechanics. If customers fly in on their own ship for a 7 day vacation and each just happens to have a problem you can have (365÷7×500+1)×8÷2,080 = 100 mechanics. If ships are unreliable and always come in with problems you can have 26,365 workers). tl;dr: low is 2, unlikely is 100, crapsack is 26,365
  • 18 Space Station Technicians (24 hrs, 2 technicians for every 29,000 ft² of basic machinery plus they're critical so x3)

  • 1 Specialty Technician (plasma engineer, etc. one each)

For a minimum of:

$$ 164 $$

Some numbers are guesstimates, some are researched.

  • $\begingroup$ 4 of them, the accountants, purchaser, and marketing advertising can all be stationed earth side, and likely do their job better from their. $\endgroup$
    – bowlturner
    Nov 24 '14 at 14:47
  • $\begingroup$ @bowlturner That's true, I missed that not everyone has to be there. I was thinking from a self-sufficient hotel angle. $\endgroup$
    – Black
    Nov 25 '14 at 4:09
  • $\begingroup$ Phone people can be outsourced to India, if you don't like automated menus; for example. $\endgroup$
    – user3082
    Jan 16 '15 at 0:14

Rather than trying to calculate the answer to this, I'm going to argue by analogy.

About 375.

I would suggest that a space station would be approximately equivalent to a cruise ship - specifically, all the crew listed in the question have equivalents on a cruise ship. Hotel staff, shops, emergency services, telephone exchange, restaurants.

Crew is usually hired on three to eleven month contracts which may then be renewed as mutually agreed, which is based upon service ratings from passengers as well as the cyclical nature of the cruise line operator. Most staff work 77 hour work weeks for 10 months continuously followed by 2 months of vacation. - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruise_ship#Crew

This would also, I imagine, be comparable to a space station (depending on technology).

Doing some digging around, the R class of the Princess Cruises line can carry 680 passengers, the right order of magnitude, and have 373 crew ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princess_Cruises#R_Class )

I expect there would be a few extra jobs, mostly technical; conversely, with no day/night cycle, there would be no "peak" times (room cleaning? breakfast and dinner? evening shows? embarking/disembarking?) - this would reduce the need for service crew somewhat.

I wouldn't count shuttle staff (bringing customers, staff, supplies to/from hotel) as being part of the "crew of the hotel", but it depends what you need this answer for.

The passenger:crew ration of the R class is 1.8:1, larger ships seem to have about 2.2:1 (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MS_Allure_of_the_Seas )


It seems that most answers are taking for granted a couple of new jobs that a space station requires:

Air supply: If this runs out, everybody dies. There has to be a large staff watching this like a hawk. 24-7.

Heating/Cooling: Outside temperatures range from well about 100 degrees to -100. This can never get to the guests. Designs would need to include monitoring and fast response servicing.

Fire department: Must be increased massively, as if a fire gets out of control everyone dies.

Evacuation: You can't just have everyone go out front on a fire drill. You need lifeboats and pilots and techs for them.



You don't need a human staff at all. It's always safe and error-free thing to put computers and robots in-charge (think Google self-driving car; most of the things can be automated). Humans can always assist the space hotel remotely.

And, where human intelligence is really required, just remove that requirement by tightening the protocols. It's always good to have strong protocols in a sensitive place like space.

And, in the end, if it doesn't feel right, put few highly skilled human engineers in case a maintenance bot fails or something goes critical beyond capabilities of the machine.

  • $\begingroup$ I don't buy Sachin's premise, but I don't think it deserves downvotes. It's worth thinking about. Makes good discussion... and a nice basis for a horror novel. :) $\endgroup$
    – user3082
    Jan 16 '15 at 0:18
  • $\begingroup$ Actually, it's a very good point; indeed, I've now learned that in Japan they already plan to do this down on earth. $\endgroup$
    – celtschk
    Feb 14 '15 at 15:23

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