Space Tourist? Should I stay or should I go?

There’s so much space-related news these days that it’s hard to know which way to look sometimes. After decades of seemingly drifting dead in a cold lonely orbit, it seems like space exploration, and business, are hotting up again.

A few weeks ago I spotted a story on the BBC website about a new private space hotel venture called Aurora Station, asking the question”Would you want to stay in a space hotel?” to which my answer was a resounding “yes!” And then today I came across a video from the Gateway Foundation, an organization dedicated to building the first rotating space station.

The marketing is very slick and emphasizes the need for a rotating station in order to produce artificial gravity to make it comfortable, and in fact practical, for ordinary people to visit and stay. As astronauts have found, even relatively short stays in zero gravity are difficult and bring with them a host of medical after-effects fit to scare anyone far away.

The video also lists some of the very frightening details of the problems suffered by Commander Scott Kelly after his year-long stint on the International Space Station. (No relation, despite the name and the fact that we use the same hair stylist!)

Their plans call for a “Von Braun-type” station to be built, with modules for rent (or possibly purchase) by space agencies, hotels, space companies, and individuals. The idea being to provide the same type of facilities we’re used to having here on Earth such as rooms, workplaces, restaurants, gymnasiums, and all the other comforts of home, but in orbit. The shots are remarkably reminiscent of the imagery in the classic science fiction move, “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

I’m all for this kind of thinking. But to me, there are a couple of “gotchas” in the enterprise. Firstly, their cost estimates are based on public statements from SpaceX’s Elon Musk, and he has a habit of, let’s say, stretching the truth.

Secondly, at 14:44 you can see people disembarking some kind of shuttle, much like you would an airplane at an airport. The problem with this is that the shuttles have to dock at the center of the station, where there is no artificial gravity of any significance–a rather basic mistake for a company proposing to build such a station, and in a video that stresses many times the importance of gravity!

But perhaps that’s just me being mean. I wish them lots of success and would love to stay at the Von Braun Hilton someday. I’m sure I could provide a suitably complimentary review on in return for an all-expenses paid trip 🙂

In my second Joe Ballen novel, Perimeter, I feature a Lunar colony (Luna Free State) as being a holiday playground, complete with underground “beaches,” sun rooms, and low gravity sports such as GlydeBall(tm). My vision for it is a little like an off-world version of Florida, where wealthy older people retire to ease tired limbs in the reduced gravity, and younger party-goers go to, well, party 🙂

A few years ago, NASA released a number of space-themed “holiday posters” such as this one. (After this winter, a holiday under the ice of Europa wouldn’t be my first choice!) Perhaps I should design a similar one for Luna Free State.

Where would your favorite space holiday be? If you’re feeling creative, make a poster, and I’ll share it on here and through social media!

Safe landings 🙂

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