With commercial space travel bringing the future to us, the notion of vacationing in space is not such a far-off dream anymore.
Man’s obsession with what lies beyond our own planet began a long time before we set foot on the moon in 1969. Our compulsive (and so far unrequited) love affair with what’s out there, coupled with frontier-seeking capabilities in space technology, has propelled the human dream of colonising planets beyond Earth into something that may become reality in our lifetime.
A highly technologically equipped and mysterious space construction company called The Gateway Foundation first made headlines in 2019 when they announced plans to build Earth’s first space hotel modelled as a cruise ship-style resort. In just two short years that now includes the ramifications of a global pandemic, The Gateway Foundation recently unveiled concrete and fully scheduled plans to open their spaceport — now christened Voyager Station — in 2027.
WHAT IS THE GATEWAY FOUNDATION?
The Gateway Foundation was formed out of the goal to build the first commercial spaceport, embarking on an entirely new industry now known as space construction. The massively scaled and ambitious project includes the first artificial gravity space station — Voyager Station — followed the by The Gateway — a truly out-of-this-world destination hotel that could also be referred to as a low Earth orbit cruise ship with its own spaceport connected to its very own city.
How will all of this be achieved? Through an incorporated construction company called Orbital Assembly Corporation, founded by one John Blincow, that specialises in space structures. Unsurprisingly, John Blincow is the very same person who also heads The Gateway Foundation.
WHAT WOULD A HOLIDAY IN SPACE LOOK LIKE?
The eventual hotel itself is said to be modelled after Earth-bound luxury resorts with the added bonus of zero-gravity activities! Trying to imagine what it would be like to sip cocktails in a swanky bar with uninterrupted views of the Earth far below would make anyone’s head spin, but that could be someone’s reality in 2027.
Concept photos of Voyager Station so far have depicted bars, restaurants, gyms, recreational facilities, and rooms resembling chic Earth-like hotel interiors. One could imagine dining above the stratosphere might involve the best of molecular gastronomy, including space travel-inspired novelties like freeze-dried ice cream.
In an interview with CNN, senior design architect at Orbital Assembly Corporation, Tim Alatorre, revealed that the inspiration behind the hotel stemmed from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. He added that the film represented an “almost blueprint of what not to do.”
Kubrick’s cold, industrial, and colourless tones of the spacecraft will be a sci-fi fantasy of the past, because Voyager Station and The Gateway will feature much more ambient and Earth-reminiscent interiors.
As for the engineering aspects of the hotel, Voyager Station will provide artificial gravity via a spinning wheel that makes up the circumference of the circular construct. The wheel will consist of 24 modules connected to the structure via elevator shafts.
Through rotations, the wheel creates simulated gravity which will allow occupants to function and behave much as if they were on Earth. The areas toward the middle of the station however, are where visitors will experience the lowest levels of gravity. This is a concept seen in movies, and will undoubtedly be a priceless experience for the very privileged.
TO INFINITY AND BEYOND
Though the current pandemic has hindered certain aspects of this gargantuan development, John Blincow has given the press a lot to look forward to with his assurance that construction on the hotel will begin in 2026, aiming for a completion date scheduled for the year after — an ambitious timetable, to be sure.
“We’re trying to make the public realize that this golden age of space travel is just around the corner,” Blincow said. “It’s coming. It’s coming fast.”
Blincow also shared that plans are in the works to collaborate with commercial spaceflight companies such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX, to transport human passengers from Earth to the hotel and back. Blincow added that SpaceX is not an official partner, but is looking forward to working with them.
Although no room rates have been announced yet, one can only imagine the astronomical cost of flying to vacation in space! Why, a ticket to fly in a Virgin Galactic suborbital spaceplane alone costs a whopping US$250,000, so go figure. It’s reasonable to assume that technological advancements and basic economies of scale will bring the prices down in time, but it’s also probably safe to say it will never be cheap. (Tony Fernandes, are you there? Maybe a new ‘SpaceAsia’ start-up is worth a thought??)
Whatever it costs, the rest of us will be eagerly awaiting more footage of humankind’s next big achievement… way up there.
You can check out The Gateway Foundation’s mission statement or even join as a member at gatewayspaceport.com.
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