The Space Age began on October 4th, 1957, when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite. The launch of Sputnik astounded the United States, sparking the creation of Nasa.
The two countries were already in the middle of the Cold War, with Sputnik’s launch the race to achieve superiority in space began. The competition led to the rapid development of space capabilities by both countries. This enabled us to put animals and humans in space, send automated probes to the Moon and other planets, and remarkably, less than 12 years after Sputnik, humans managed to walk on the Moon. Now, six decades in, the Space Age is marching steadily into its commercial phase.
What once was seemingly impossible, in the present, is achievable for all the private individuals with deep enough pockets to purchase passage beyond Earth’s atmosphere. Furthermore, the Sacramento start-up Orbital Assembly Corporation (AOC) has announced plans to open a space hotel by 2027.
Is this a publicity stunt or a highly achievable goal? The hotel is named Voyager Station, the design suggests that the interior isn’t dissimilar to a luxury hotel here on Earth, just with some additional out-of-this-world views. Moreover, it’s designed to accommodate up to 280 guests and 112 crew members and it’s equipped with amenities like a restaurant, a cinema, a bar, a concert hall, and a gym. If this sounds preposterous, Tim Alatorre, OAC’s vice president and architect behind the hotel, understands the skepticism. But it won’t be long before such talk is commonplace. “I think it’s going to be a normal thing, where your mom went to space, your dad went to space,” he says. “Being an astronaut is not going to be a novel thing anymore, because everyone has done it.” There are many hindrances that engineers needed to overcome to successfully finish this project.
One of the biggest problems was most certainly providing gravity. It sounds surprising that the solution to this problem was found in one concept that was proposed more than a century ago, named the rotating wheel. In the 1950s the concept was popularized by Wernher von Braun, a German rocket scientist. Technically, Rotation has the same impact as gravity because it generates a force (called the centrifugal force) in the same way that gravity does.
You may produce a force on the exterior walls that equal the force of gravity by modifying specific characteristics of a space station, such as the radius and rotation rate. Thanks to the centrifugal force all the visitors will be able to move relatively normally. AOC claimed on their website “We provide gravity.” But now, the second question is raised, how will the visitors even reach the hotel? It’s not like you can just grab a cab and tell the driver I want to go to the Voyager Station.
However, thanks to the state-of-the-art rocket ships you can book your ticket to outer space. After blasting off from the Earth, guests will arrive at a central zero-gravity docking hub. From there, elevator shafts will transport passengers to a series of “habitation modules” set around the edges of the station’s circle. It’s only there, at the edge of the wheel, that the centrifugal force will be strong enough to keep guests and their surroundings firmly grounded. After safely landing all the guests can begin to enjoy all the facilities and probably the most mesmerizing hotel view ever. Maybe soon you will be able to book a round trip ticket since SpaceX gave AOC a shoutout on Instagram to what AOC replied “Maybe @spacex can offer a two-way ticket by the time it’s finished?” Alatorre said “We are committed to this, and we’ve invested our lives and our fortunes into making this a reality,” adding “There’s nothing technologically standing in our way. It’s just a question of time and money, and we can overcome those.”
Alatorre seems pretty confident that the hotel will be soon fully operating but what do you think? Make sure you leave your thoughts in the comment section.