Space travel will soon be a reality for The Everyman. For those under the age of 70, there’s a good chance they’ll see the opportunity to visit space in their lifetime. One ambitious design firm is on track to complete its portion of the first commercial space project in history, and it’s way cooler than we ever expected.
The ominous-sounding Gateway Foundation recently announced big plans to debut the world’s first luxury space hotel. If the concepts presented as part of the so-called Von Braun Rotating Space Station are any indication, the hotel won’t be anything like the cold, featureless, white-on-white design depicted in films like 2001: A Space Odyssey. Instead, every guest room and common area throughout the 24-module station will feel more like a trendy luxury cruise. The station is likely to house restaurants, bars, concert halls, and educational forums. Thanks to its futuristic, spinning wheel design, it’s expected to have a low-gravity environment like that of the moon (about one-sixth of Earth’s). Because of that, visitors will be able to enjoy beds, showers, and toilets similar to those found on Earth. That same low-gravity environment will also open the possibility for unique space sports like low-gravity basketball, trampolining, and rock climbing.
Initially, Gateway Foundation expects 100 guests weekly aboard the Von Braun Station. The modules will be open to temporary tourists, government agencies, scientific researchers, and even permanent residents. The company anticipates a total population of around 400 for the first station, with the hope of opening two more stations in the first five years. All could be used as waystations for lunar passengers and, ultimately, even for travelers transiting to Mars.
We reported the first whispers of commercial space “glamping” in June 2018 with the announcement of the new Axiom Space Station. This year, NASA announced that the International Space Station was officially open for commercial stays. With the right transportation and sufficient disposable income, almost any traveler can now book a month-long stay in low-earth-orbit aboard the ISS. Keep in mind nightly rates top $34,000, and there’s currently no way for average, non-astronaut travelers to ferry themselves to and from the station. What’s more, the ISS is no “hotel.” While a stay there would no doubt be amazing, it would also be cramped, smelly, and difficult.
Thanks to ambitious, big-talking billionaires like Elon Musk and Richard Branson, we’re living in something of a Golden Age of tall technological promises. So it should come as no surprise that Gateway Foundation is aiming for the hotel’s completion by 2025. Regardless of when it happens, commercial space travel will likely be a reality and even seem “normal” sooner than most of us expect. As the hotel’s senior design architect, Tim Alatorre, noted, “Eventually, going to space will just be another option people will pick for their vacation, just like going on a cruise, or going to Disney World.”
For an almost out-of-this-world experience, travelers can prebook a stay at Tera — a 3D-printed Mars-worthy habitat in upstate New York — right now.