By Francesca Street, CNN
Waking up in a chic hotel room with a view of the solar system could be the future of travel, at least if space company Orbital Assembly has anything to say about it.
The US-based company has revealed new information and concepts for its space hotel idea, designs for which have been orbiting since 2019.
Originally premiered by Californian company the Gateway Foundation — and then called the Von Braun Station — this futuristic concept consists of several modules connected by elevator shafts that make up a rotating wheel orbiting the Earth.
The project is now being overseen by Orbital Assembly Corporation, a space construction company that cut links with Gateway.
Orbital Assembly is now aiming to launch not one but two space stations with tourist accommodation: Voyager Station, the renamed original design, is now scheduled to accommodate 400 people and to open in 2027, while new concept Pioneer Station, housing 28 people, could be operational in just three years.
The goal, says Orbital Assembly, is to run a space “business park” home to offices as well as tourists.
Space tourism seems closer than ever before — over the past year, billionaire Virgin founder Richard Branson blasted into suborbital space with his company Virgin Galactic, while Star Trek actor William Shatner became the oldest person in space thanks to a jaunt with Blue Origin.
But there’s still a pretty unbelievable price point attached to any space trip, which makes it hard for many of us to actually envisage spending our annual leave out of this world.
Tim Alatorre, Orbital Assembly’s chief operating officer, thinks this barrier will lift as space tourism takes off.
“The goal has always been to make it possible for large amounts of people to live, work and thrive in space,” Alatorre told CNN Travel in a new interview.
Alatorre says the appeal of new concept Pioneer Station is that its smaller scale makes it achievable sooner.
“It’s going to get us the opportunity to have people start to experience space on a larger scale, faster,” he said.
Office spaces and research facilities will also be up for rent on both Pioneer Station and Voyager Station.
This, said Alatorre, is a “win-win” for Orbital Assembly, as a lot of its near-term goals are funding-dependent.
Orbital Assembly envisages both stations resembling a rotating wheel orbiting the earth.
In a 2019 interview with CNN Travel, Alatorre explained the physics of Voyager Station as working like a spinning bucket of water.
“The station rotates, pushing the contents of the station out to the perimeter of the station, much in the way that you can spin a bucket of water — the water pushes out into the bucket and stays in place,” he said.
Near the center of the station there would be no artificial gravity, but as you move down the outside of the station, the feeling of gravity increases.
The physics haven’t changed, said Alatorre more recently. But, he explained, as Pioneer Station will be smaller, its gravity level would be different. There will still be what he calls the “comforts” of artificial gravity, like showers, the ability to eat and drink sitting down — but the spaces with less gravity will allow for even more fun, space quirks.
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