A luxury resort on the moon might be a long way off, but the renewed push by private entities for space exploration and habitation is great for everyone, including hoteliers (eventually).
To paraphrase a classic film, I want to say two words to you, hoteliers. Just two words. Are you listening?
There is a great future in space hotels. Think about it. Will you think about it?
Somebody’s thinking about it, kind of. Robert Bigelow, founder of Budget Suites of America, started Bigelow Aerospace to create inflatable space habitats, with plans to send one of its space stations to orbit the moon by 2022, The Washington Post reports.
The company, which currently has a smaller pod attached to the International Space Station, has partnered with United Launch Alliance, itself a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing on the project.
Now, this inflatable space station is designed to stay in low Earth orbit for the first few months of operation while it receives cargo and supplies and undergoes testing to ensure its safety. Following that, a space tug would take it into lunar orbit to become the moon’s own space station.
Business Insider described this as a space hotel, though this is designed for astronauts, not space tourists. However, the concept does harken back to the 1950s and 1960s when everyone thought we’d have colonized the moon, maybe even Mars, and we’d all have jetpacks to get around by now. How many Jetsons fans out there wish they had Rosie the Robot cleaning their home instead of a Roomba?
Think about it. Modern humans existed for hundreds of thousands of years before we developed the technology to fly in 1903. It took fewer than 60 years after that for the first manned orbit around the Earth, and only another eight years to actually put people on the moon. It took hundreds of thousands of years before the Wright Flyer flew 852 feet, but well short of another century before we traveled 953,054 miles to the moon and back.
I’m not saying we’re ready to have hotels orbiting the Earth or the moon anytime soon. This is an inflatable space station for astronauts to study the moon and possibly help set up a lunar base. It’s more than a few steps removed from a luxury resort, but it’s exciting to think about the possibilities something like this could open up.
The idea of space tourism has existed for years. The proposals most likely to succeed have involved plans to send tourists up as passengers on shuttles built by private entities to either orbit the Earth or the moon. So far, however, none have come to fruition.
There have been plans for drone hotels, underwater hotels and floating hotels—all of them fantastic and equally outlandish. Can we actually build and sustain hotels like this? I don’t know, but having that desire to try something different, to push boundaries and fully explore these designs is the only way to find out.
It’s more than possible hotel designs like this won’t work, at least at this time, because of high costs, issues with construction materials or any number of other problems. But you never know if something might work unless you try.
Besides, we’ve seen so many other advances in technology as a side effect of other projects. One of the biggest examples out there is NASA’s collection of spinoffs—technological advances created by NASA that later became commercialized.
Even if a major project falls apart, there are still victories in them, from lessons learned and other smaller advances. I don’t plan on packing my bags for a stay in low Earth orbit or a night on the moon within my lifetime, but it’s exciting to think safe space tourism could become a reality in the relatively near future.
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