Flights and accomodation into hotels in the space are coming.
Finally he was staring at the empty space. The large window allowed Richard to look into the deep dark outside while a voice in his earphones was guiding him in spotting and naming stars and constellations. He was moving really slow, despite the six months training done on earth, floating into a zero gravity lodge still required him a bit of concentration. They told him that some day a rotating space hotel would allow for an artificial gravity, but this was yet to come.
He decided to jump to the fitness room. He wanted to experiment some gym into that environment. That was a completely new concept recently added to the features of the orbital hotel. And it was just one among many. Simple things like eating, having a shower in sealed boxes or sleeping in a vertical bed were already exciting but the management recently added a bar with music, unfortunately serving just iced tea and fruit juices but with a giant porthole facing the earth below, the gymn and a small private area to dictate with a voice to a computer emails, tweets and facebook posts to be sent almost real time on earth. But what he was really waiting for, was the walk outside. Just 10 minutes, helped by a professional assistant and obviously attached with a cable to the station.
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It’s basically since Jules Verne’s stories that (some) humans are dreaming such a moment and several companies (SpaceX, Space Adventures, Excalibur Almaz, Virgin Galactics etc…) are working to make it happen in the next future. Our current perception is that space flights and orbital hotels are a luxury for a few billionaires who can afford it, but in the long term, increased competition and enhanced technologies will lower the price, although this will never be cheap or at least as cheap as flying from Europe to US or Asia. Everything begun with the american businessman Dennis Tito who spent about 20 m dollars to fly 8 days to the Mir; that money was mainly needed to offset some of the maintenance costs of the orbital station. A bit of history on this topic is available on Wikipedia. Now we are moving to real space tourism. Hotels in the space are coming.
The first challenge to overcome is the flight; attaining orbit requires speeds significantly higher than those reached by current veichles, but the solution is in progress and based upon midair launches from beneath a mothership. Virgin Galactics is working on it and more than 700 people already booked a seat for the moment the space flight will be operative. Give a look at this article of the Scientific American to have more details.
If we think about some interesting collateral impact of this business we can get at least two: jobs in the space and architecture. In terms of jobs creation, since the beginning, tourists will have to be supported by specialized crews; but in the long term the vision is even more bullish, from hotels hosting 5/6 guests, to rotating megahotels hosting hundreds people to space theme parks which have to be daily managed and maintained. About architecture, it’s quite interesting that the space hotels will progressively move from the current essential and minimalist style to a luxury environment and everything will have to be designed ad hoc for the space, especially under the no gravity scenario. Some good hints can be found in this post from the spacefuture.com website.
The last consideration is about the environment. A few hundred sub-orbital launches may not be apparently a big number, compared to the thousands and thousands of ordinary flights that every day navigate the sky, but in reality each of them would use such a big quantity of rocket fuel to impact the area around for some time. And this opens to another challenge, going into the space with a reasonable green technology, but that’s another story.
Newsletter: because there’s much more than hotels in the space here!
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