For many people it means getting away from everyday life and going to a cabin in the woods or a house on the beach. Soon there might be another option: take off to a hotel that is in a quiet orbit high above the planet.
Although space hotels have long belonged only to the world of appearance, this will soon change. NASA wants to open the International Space Station (ISS) as early as 2020 for tourists. A Houston-based startup called Orion Span has proposed a four-guest hotel called Aurora Station, due to open in 2022.
Gateway Foundation, a start-up in Alta Loma, California, is planning perhaps the most ambitious space hotel project ever: a space cruise ship large enough to accommodate a couple of hotels that could accommodate 1
Normal Vacation Option
The Foundation calls its proposed facility the Von Braun Rotating Space Station, an allusion to Wernher von Braun, a Nazi rocket scientist who left Germany after World War II to become one of the main architects of the Apollo program to become NASA. Von Braun spread the idea of a wheel-shaped space station in the 1950s.
The Foundation plans to build the facility in orbit by 2025 and open it to visitors in 2027 or shortly thereafter, says Tim Alatorre, senior design architect at the foundation. "There has not been much movement in the past to get an average person into space, and we're trying to achieve that," he said. "In a few years, we'll all just think of space as a normal vacation option."
Wolfgang Fink, Associate Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the College of Engineering, University of Arizona, Tucson, agrees with the Space Hotels. "I am absolutely convinced that it will happen," he says. "It's definitely not science fiction."
But the timetable may be too ambitious. "We are still far from actually building and operating these orbiting hotels," says Glenn Lightsey, a professor of space technology at the Georgia Tech College of Engineering in Atlanta. "It's coming and exciting, but it will be a while before it happens." Lightsey sees the opening of the first space hotels in the 2030s.
Details about how guests get to and from space hotels are sketchy. The Gateway Foundation says it is in talks with SpaceX about using its Starship vehicle, with guests starting from Florida, and it is unclear how long the journey would take, although astronauts can reach the ISS in just six hours. 19659010] The Gateway Foundation has not said what it would cost to stay at the Von Braun station, but Orion Span says that spending a day aboard the Aurora station costs $ 9.5 million, including transportation, NASA says Guests spend $ 35,000 for a night on the ISS – not bad, considering that transportation costs could rise by millions.
The first group of space tourists – seven people, which have risen from 2001 to 2009 – Russia has paid more than $ 20 million per flight and stay aboard the ISS.
"The early costs will be quite high," says Alatorre. "Our goal is to cut costs down to where you have the choice: save and spend a week in Europe or fly into space."
The Space Hotel Experience
What would that be? Fancy the train station of Braun? The first station for incoming guests would be the docking station for spacecraft at the center of the wheel-shaped structure. From this point, guests would take a lift to the outer ring rooms, where the steady turn would be enough to simulate gravity equivalent to one sixth of the earth's surface eating, exercising, showering, and using the restroom, just like they do would do on the earth. But being much weaker on earth than gravity, guests can enjoy some activities that are impossible on solid ground.
"We imagine oversized basketball events where you run walls up and down." Alatorre says.
Artificial gravity is also a matter of safety as well as fun and convenience. Astronauts who have spent a long time in weightlessness have experienced swelling, weakness, eye problems and other diseases.
The decor of the decor will have nothing to do with the stark white furniture that is seen in many sci-fi movies in space, Alatorre adds. Most visitors to Von Braun Station would be one or two Weeks remain while crewmembers are likely to stay in orbit for six months before returning to Earth.
The ISS has shown that it is possible to build large structures in Earth orbit and that people can live there safely and relatively comfortably for longer periods of time. However, some basic questions about space hotels remain open.
"The challenge lies in the human aspect – keeping the supply chain intact, providing breathable air, and sustaining life-sustaining conditions," adds Lightsey, adding that he does not consider such potential problems likely to be insurmountable.
Fink points to other potential problems, including the risk for space hotels and their guests from circulating space debris.
Astronauts agree that even a tiny piece of dirt could seriously damage a spaceship It's not clear how much risk guests in a space hotel would or should accept. Alatorre says that Braun Station, like the ISS, would have a protective shield and be steered out of the way of greater debris. In case of a break, emergency bulkheads would block the damaged area.
Eventually, Lightsey says, a visit to a space hotel might be a bit like visiting a polar exploration station – another extreme environment now accessible to intrepid people.
"At first, there were only explorers and scientists, and now we have a city down there, basically at McMurdo Station," he says, referring to the plant on Ross Island off the coast of the Antarctic. "Earth orbit will be the same over time."
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