Direct and indirect commercial links are likely to be made between orbital space tourism and exovivaria, with growing synergy value between them. Among the more likely and predictable of the combined benefits:

  • Enhancing economies of scale in transport - If exovivaria prove to be so popular as to provide a new market for space launch that grows at least as fast as the global economy, the resulting higher launch rates (and possibly cheaper alternative launch technologies such as projectile space launch) should help make orbital space tourism cheaper. There could be a "virtuous cycle" in which launches for exovivaria construction and resupply contribute to greater economies of scale for space launch in general, with scale benefits that spill over into complementary markets like orbital tourism, further increasing launch rates, and further spurring innovation in launch efficiencies.
  • Logistics and secondary life support - an exovivarium would be like a space hotel in the sense that it would be a life-support system in orbit. The commonalities should be exploited early and often.
    • Exovivaria could export fresh food, for space tourists and tourism staff, and also for crewmembers of governmental space programs. Astronauts currently complain that the food on offer at ISS is not exactly one of the main attractions of life on orbit. Weightlessness is known to suppress appetite; the availability of fresh herbs and spices could offset that effect.
    • Biological imports to exovivaria from space hotels should also be possible, providing a basis for real trade. Currently, in the cramped conditions aboard ISS, biomass of potential value to exovivaria (human waste; meal scraps) gets packed into disposable cargo craft and incinerated by atmospheric re-entry. This is an unfortunate waste of resources. Businesses operating through exovivaria could buy space hotel food scraps as livestock feed and for composting, and buy hotel sewage for its fertilizer value. Using exovivaria for biomass recycling would keep the overall mass exchange between exovivaria and space hotels at equilibrium, thus reducing the supplies that would otherwise be lifted from Earth at great cost.
    • Exovivaria could export biological products of other kinds besides food, such as fiber for use in textiles and apparel (e.g., silk), and botanicals for decoration (e.g., flowers), with some value added telebotically. All of these exports will have limited lifespans, most would be biodegradable, and therefore could be recycled back into the exovivarium.
  • Emergency supplies and shelter - It's been argued that manned spaceflight remains commercially unsustainable because of a lack of emergency response infrastructure to help ensure the safety of passengers and crew.1 Exovivaria and possibly projectile space launch could be "force multipliers" for on-orbit emergency logistics.
    • At larger scales, exovivaria could provide short-term refuge in the event of failure of life-support systems in space hotels and in manned governmental space missions.
    • Even relatively small exovivaria could prove useful in extreme circumstances. Exovivarium participants could plan and rehearse the cannibalization of entire exovivaria for their atmosphere and edible biomass, as part of space tourist rescue scenarios.
    • Aside from exovivaria development, Project Persephone could improve on-orbit emergency response insofar as it boosts development of projectile space launch: if an ecopoiesis package can be engineered to survive such accelerations, it should also be possible to launch emergency pharmaceuticals and certain kinds of medical instruments, obviating the need for a fully-stocked clinic at the orbital outpost.
    • All of the above scenarios, if proven in exercises, could help defray the costs of private space travel. Insurance for private space travelers is already being studied seriously.2 Practical, credible, well-exercised plans for using exovivaria and possibly projectile launch for emergency relief and rescue operations could significantly reduce space tourism insurance premia.
  • Augmenting space tourism experience value - If exovivaria overhead costs turn out to be significantly lower (per user) for ever-larger exovivaria, sheer economics could drive successive generations of exovivaria to "naturally" grow to the point where they are large enough to be interesting places to visit, perhaps even large enough for space tourists to "camp" in, at least for a day or two of a multi-week stay. At such scales, new trade opportunities and new synergies open up:
    • Exovivaria environments in orbit could provide provide an additional attraction for orbital space tourism, spurring growth for the industry.
    • The users of the exovivaria could innovate and create their own (telebotically performed) paying attractions for visitors.
    • Visitors could engage in "eco-tourism", adding value to exovivarium environment more efficiently, or with greater physical strength, than would be possible with telerobotics alone -- they could be Gullivers among the telepresent Lilliputians.
    • Visits by space tourists could be celebrated events that draw more customers to exovivaria, especially if the visitors are celebrities; Exovivarium participants could even cover the costs of some visits if the promotional value for exovivaria was expected to exceed the costs.
  • R&D support - Some exovivaria could become space tourism industry R&D labs for establishing new categories in space tourism.
    • If, for example, lunar tourism is projected to be more sustainable and economical with the hotel's food grown on the Moon itself, exovivaria could provide excellent low-cost labs to experiment with lunar-style agriculture, particularly for investigating the effects of lunar gravity on growing vegetables and raising small livestock.
    • Should lunar gravity prove too weak for healthy plant or animal growth, exovivaria could provide a useful model for how to grow food on the moon with supplementary artificial gravity.
    • Apart from food supply issues, certain on-orbit services for space tourists could be better supplied with small telerobotics. In this, exovivaria could excel as proving grounds for hotel-guest customer-service innovations, perhaps for services that can't even be predicted at this point, but that could be invented, refined and brought nearly to maturity before space hotels even offer enough paying customers to justify deploying such services.
  • Convergence - at some point, both orbital "space hotel" operations and exovivaria operations could become so intertwined and synergistic that there is no longer any business case for separating the two markets. Space hotels could:
    • grow most of their own food;
    • recycle CO2 and purify most of their air through the local ecosystem;
    • offer a range of services to guests via telerobotics provided by staff on Earth;
    • provide health/comfort-maintaining artificial gravity for both staff and the ecosystem in whatever manner is determined to be optimal by experimentation with exovivaria, while still providing spaces for low-G/microgravity experience.
    • offer much the same recreational value for Earth-bound users as free-standing exovivaria did, even at a facility whose main purpose is hosting human visitors.

1 "The Need Behind a National Capability for On-orbit Emergencies" (PDF in .zip file), Gordon Smith, Alan Thompson. DSER Strategy Group. 2011.

2 ISTA, Allianz Global Assistance Team to Offer Space Tourism Insurance (Press Release). Doug Messier, Parabolic Arc, November 15, 2011

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