Visiting somewhere that’s warm and sunny? Or maybe a five-star stay in a vibrant and exciting city? Well, for the next few minutes forget all of that, because we’re going to the moon and back. Literally. This is Unveiled, and today we’re answering the extraordinary question; what if there was a hotel in space?
The Lunar Hilton Story
Back in the 1960s, the space race was at its height. The USA and the Soviet Union were in a constant battle to outdo one another until, at the end of the decade, NASA’s Apollo 11 delivered one of the most iconic moments of the twentieth century.
In amongst all of that, however, one man was looking at space in a different way. Barron Hilton, the second son of Conrad Hilton, boldly claimed that his family’s by-then-massive hotelier business would one day open a lunar branch. Plans for the aptly named Lunar Hilton hotel even got so far as having various blueprints drawn up, prototype key cards made, and some early advertising was printed, as well.
In the years before even the astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made their trip to the moon, America and the world were dreaming — perhaps even expecting — to be booking their own lunar getaways sometime soon.
Return to the Moon
Fast forward to 2021 and, unfortunately, no such thing has happened. The moon is still hotel-free, and a grand total of just twelve people have ever actually stepped foot there — with the last of those being in 1972. Conrad Hilton’s cosmic vision didn’t just go unrealized, it never got off the ground.
But, today, there’s a growing feeling that history could be repeating itself. There’s a significantly renewed interest in space travel in general. NASA has the Artemis Program, promising to return us to the moon, while there’s a growing number of private and publicly-funded space initiatives taking shape all over the world. And, yes, there are fresh talks about opening a hotel in space.
The Voyager Station
The Voyager Station is a new concept space hotel like nothing seen before. The plans for it come from the Gateway Foundation, a big-thinking group of scientists, engineers, and former NASA employees. In 2018, Gateway founded the Orbital Assembly Corporation to put its big ideas into action — with Orbital Assembly styling itself as the world’s first large-scale space construction company. And, if Voyager Station is ever completed, then it really will be large scale.
Not to be confused with NASA’s famous, far-flung space probes of the same name, this Voyager is set to be a massive, rotating, circular structure that could accommodate up to four hundred people. And, according to current Gateway projections, it could open as early as the year 2027.
The plan is for it to speed through space around 300 miles above the surface of the Earth — completing a lap of the planet every ninety minutes. And because it’s constantly rotating, one of its major selling points to would-be visitors is that it will have gravity. Where other hotels promise room service and a sea view, this one begins its sales pitch with the bold claim that it will be able to keep its guests’ feet on the ground.
Of course, it’s not as though you’d be without an ocean vista. Gaze out of the windows on Voyager Station, and you might well see an entire ocean laid out before you. The views of Earth that Voyager would provide will undoubtedly be one of its biggest draws. Imagine witnessing whole continents pass you by, all in the time it takes to eat breakfast.
Those behind Voyager claim that it will set itself apart from other proposed space tourist destinations in other ways, as well, though. There’s a reported emphasis on comfort, as the project moves away from the traditionally shiny, sterile, somewhat bleak look of life in space.
Everyday necessities like showers, toilets, and sleeping arrangements will all work as close as possible to how they do on Earth. And, if guests did ever need something other than panoramic views of our planet to keep them entertained, it’s said that Voyager will have a cinema, gym, a spa, restaurants, and various other leisure options. Boredom, it seems, won’t be an issue.
Life With Space Hotels
So, let’s now imagine that it is the year 2027 and Voyager Station has been built. It’s busily welcoming its first guests for a truly out-of-this-world experience, and perhaps other space hotels are being assembled to provide some competition in this emerging hospitality market. People on Earth are being told they can now see the stars and send a postcard… so what would it be like if you were one of them?
First of all, you’d probably have to be rich. There has been no official word so far on how much a stay on Voyager Station could set you back, but based on the small amount of space tourism that we’ve already seen in recent years… it’s a trip that could cost millions of dollars per person.
The plus side is that space tourism could well become more affordable quite quickly, if and when the first versions of it prove a success. Everyone from Elon Musk to Jeff Bezos is reportedly working on ways to bring space travel to as many people as possible, with a hope that in the future it won’t be an exclusive pursuit but a common one. That said, running and maintaining a hotel in space is never going to be cheap… so there will always be a hefty premium to pay for anyone hoping to travel beyond Earth’s atmosphere. And how exactly would that journey play out?
At the start of a more conventional vacation, you might head to the airport. But now we’d need something more. We’d need spaceports. Purpose-built travel facilities that swap traditional runways for mass-use launch pads.
Typically, launch sites work best the closer to the equator they are. This allows them to make full use of the Earth’s rotation speed when soaring to escape velocity. So, in a future world where space tourism is all the rage, we can expect the equator to be particularly packed with spaceports.
Inside a Space Hotel
As for the journey time, once you’re inside your rocket… taking the International Space Station as being an average distance away from Earth for space hotels, too, the trip should take between twenty-four and seventy-two hours.
Once inside (or onboard) your space hotel, the experience is usually imagined as being much like a cruise ship. With nothing but a vast sea of open space all around you, there’s nowhere other than the hotel for guests to explore. Except here, you can’t even open a window to get some fresh air — for obvious reasons.
Perhaps, then, this wouldn’t be a relaxing stay for anyone suffering claustrophobia. And, more generally, cosmic cabin fever could become a problem. The health of would-be space tourists is an ongoing debate.
We know that long stays in space can damage bones and muscles, and then there’s all the radiation to contend with in a hotel that doesn’t naturally benefit from the protection of Earth’s atmosphere. The good news is that for a short stay of a week or two, the effects of these shouldn’t be a concern. It is something that space hotel owners would have to factor into their staffing plans, though.
No one would be able to live and work at the hotel indefinitely, because of the health issues that long stays could bring. So, there’d most likely be a long shifts system, swapping whole teams of people every few weeks. There’s no doubt that in the business of space tourism, there’d be a lot of moving parts to manage.
So what do you think? Would you take a trip to a hotel like this if the opportunity ever arose? Can you imagine jetting off on board an actual rocket to spend some time idly gazing back at the planet you usually call home? If the grand plan for the Gateway Foundation’s Voyager Station goes through without a hitch… then space-based vacations like this could be happening as soon as the year 2027.
Who knows where we could be by the year 2030… or 2050. By then, space tourism could be the norm, and we’ll all be looking forward to our next off-Earth break. Excitedly ticking the days off of the calendar until we can leave this planet behind. It feels like a future dream… but we’re getting closer and closer to it becoming a reality. Because that’s what would happen if there was a hotel in space.
article source: Unveiled
Originally published at https://www.thecomprehensivepost.com.