The Gateway Foundation is designing the world’s first space hotel – the Von Braun Space Station – to make the space accessible to everyone, all with artificial gravity technology that should make long-term stays in the area possible.
According to Tim Alatorre, senior design architect of the Von Braun Space Station, he sees that space is merely the next travel destination for tourists. It will be “just like going on a cruise, or going to Disney World,” Alatorre told an outlet.
Similar to a cruise or Disney World, the space hotel will have full-working kitchens, bars, musical concerts, movie screenings, and interiors made with natural materials and colors.
The central revolving theme for this hotel is that it should represent Earth in a way that gives comfort and homely experience. Alatorre says that it will use natural materials and will steer away from the uber-futuristic aesthetic.
Overall, the space hotel’s design is based on concepts developed in the 1950s by Wernher von Braun – after whom the hotel is named.
Particularly, von Braun was a significant figure for the American space program as space exploration was starting to pick up attention from the public in the 1950s.
One of his engineering work was highly invested in a rotating space station concept, 250 feet in diameter, which he considered would be a crucial building block necessary to get the man onto the moon.
The Gateway Foundation–not to be confused with NASA’s lunar Gateway–adapted the same concepts but decided to add new features that will make the whole concept of living in space more comfortable and practical.
Notably, the Gateway Foundation found von Braun’s original prived to be constricting in terms of it being a comfortable living space because people had to pass by other people’s habituation modules to get from point A to point B.
From a practical sense, the Gateway Foundation added an escape feature in the Von Braun Space Station, Alatorre sarcastically compared the initial design to the Titanic because of the lack thereof.
The escape modules are attached to the sides of the habituation pods to serve as an alternative extraction route in the unfortunate instance of an emergency in the hotel and can be accessed easily.
Most significantly, however, the Von Braun Space Station will build on the technology used at the current International Space Station (ISS), unlike its predecessor the space hotel will have artificial gravity making both visiting and long-term habitation much more comfortable.
The idea also comes from von Braun’s concepts where the hotel will consist of a 190-meter-diameter wheel, which will rotate to create a gravitational force similar to that felt on the moon.
The presence of gravity means that many issues experienced by astronauts on the ISS will not affect the Von Braun Space Station.
Visitors will be able to go to the toilet in the usual way, but more importantly, it will be able to make space a long-term livable habitat for humans.
Humans in microgravity for long periods do not mix well. Eventually, muscles will start to atrophy, visions will be affected, and others will cause other physical manifestations because our bodies’ internal processes are in tune with the Earth’s gravity. Losing that will have serious complications in the long run. Sustaining artificial gravity in a habituation hotel-esque concept can be a favorable solution.
Notably, the idea of using centrifugal force to create a sensation of gravity in space originated as early as 1903, but it is a technology that has never been done or tested before in large scale because it is a very expensive venture. In perspective, the construction and maintenance of the International Space Station costs about $150 billion. Some say that it is the most expensive structure to date.
Even as advanced as the Gateway Foundation’s planning have been, the funding scheme for the entire project seems vague as the moment.
John Bilcow, the President of the Gateway Foundation, indicates that he is hoping to leverage crucial partnerships with the space agencies of the world (NASA, Roscomos, the ESA, China, India, and others) as well as commercial aerospace companies. They also plan to raise money through early ticket sales and selling modules (for the super-rich) and holding a lottery and creating a crew membership program (for everybody else).
Some modules will be sold as private residences, while others will be rented to governments for scientific purposes. In total the Gateway Foundation expects the population of the station to be around 400.
“The goal of the Gateway Foundation is to have the Von Braun operational by 2025 with 100 tourists visiting the station per week,” Alatorre said.
“Because the overall costs are still so high, most people assume that space tourism will only be available to the super-rich, and while I think this will be true for the next several years, the Gateway Foundation has a goal of making space travel open to everyone.”
They plan on selling lottery tickets for those who cannot afford to purchase a ticket without assistance, another funding scheme they hope will be able to raise significant income to fund the project.
The Gateway foundation is a collection of space enthusiasts headed up by president Blincow, a commercial pilot and flying instructor. Its members include ex-Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer/scientist Dr. Thomas Spilker, 30-year Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer Robert Miyaki, and other specialists in IP law, energy and sustainability, journalism and 3D technical animation.