on July 8th, 2024

Space hotels and tourism are finally on the horizon, leaping from science fiction to reality. The first-ever space hotel is slated to open within a few years, followed closely by another. We explore the latest insights from the hotels’ creators and the diverse engineering feats underpinning these celestial playgrounds for the super-rich.

A recent survey by Booking.com highlights a significant trend: “space hotel” ranked as the most searched for and second most discussed future travel topic in the past year. This surge in interest is timely, given that the first hotel is scheduled to begin welcoming guests by 2027, with another anticipated by 2030.

Above: Space Development, formerly known as Orbital Assembly Corp., is an international real estate company specializing in the design and construction of space stations. It aims to launch its inaugural luxury space accommodation within “60 months” of securing sufficient funding for its ambitious projects.

The funding required is substantial, exceeding $1 billion (approximately AUD 1.47 billion). With two projects underway—Voyager Station and the recently announced Pioneer Station—space tourists may soon find themselves enjoying rest and relaxation amidst the stars.

“We anticipate stays ranging from as short as four days to as long as two weeks,” explained Rhonda Stevenson, CEO of Above, in an interview with Architectural Digest. “The duration depends on cost considerations and the ability to adapt to a space environment.” Voyager Station and Pioneer Station are engineered to mitigate these challenges, prioritizing comfort and safety for their interstellar guests.

But what exactly are space hotels, and crucially, what engineering talents enable such an extraordinary venture?

What We Know About the Hotels

Drawing inspiration from iconic science fiction films like “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Interstellar,” both Voyager Station and Pioneer Station will generate artificial gravity through centrifugal force.

These pioneering space stations will adopt a Ferris wheel-like structure, spinning to simulate gravity within their pods. Despite their unconventional appearance compared to terrestrial hotels, the accommodations and amenities aboard each station will feel remarkably familiar to seasoned travelers.

Voyager Station, designed to host up to 400 guests, will feature luxurious options, including purchasable villas for long-term stays, themed restaurants, concert venues, bars and lounges with panoramic views of Earth, fully equipped gyms, and rejuvenating health spas. Essentially, it offers the amenities of a high-end resort—just in a cosmic setting.

In contrast, Pioneer Station will be more compact, accommodating up to 28 guests. While it lacks the lavish amenities of Voyager Station, it serves a multifunctional role as a hub for commercial, research, and tourism activities. Artificial gravity will allow guests to engage in routine activities such as dining, sleeping, and leisure without the challenges of microgravity experienced on current space stations.

“For the average person, the experience of being in space will be akin to a science fiction dream,” remarked Tim Alatorre, Chief Operating Officer of Orbital Assembly, in a recent press release. “Our vision is to transform space into a coveted destination, blending familiar comforts with the novel experience of gravity.”

The Engineering Skills Making It Possible

Creating space hotels like Voyager Station and Pioneer Station hinges on expertise across multiple engineering disciplines. A primary challenge is crafting artificial gravity, achieved through centrifugal force.

This requires advanced mechanical and aerospace engineering knowledge to design and build large rotating structures that maintain stable spin rates.

Engineers rigorously calculate and test these structures to ensure they provide comfortable gravity levels for guests, addressing complex dynamics in the vacuum of space.

Structural engineering is pivotal in comprehensively designing and assembling these orbital habitats. These hotels must endure space challenges: temperature extremes, radiation, and micro-meteoroid impacts. Engineers utilize cutting-edge composites and alloys to create lightweight yet resilient materials for the stations’ framework and outer shell. This ensures safety for inhabitants and optimizes the efficiency of launching and assembling modules in orbit.

Civil engineering expertise is crucial during construction, focusing on structural integrity, modular construction, and environmental control systems. Engineers develop robust, lightweight materials capable of withstanding space’s harsh environment alongside prefabricated modules designed for seamless orbital assembly. They integrate sustainable life support systems for air, water, and waste management, efficient internal layouts, and stringent safety protocols. Civil engineers adapt terrestrial engineering principles to ensure long-term sustainability, maintenance, and emergency readiness in the unique confines of space.

Electrical engineering assumes critical importance, particularly in developing reliable power systems. Space hotels rely on sustainable energy sources like solar panels and advanced battery storage systems to sustain continuous power for life support, lighting, climate control, and recreational facilities. Engineers meticulously design and integrate energy management systems to optimize power usage and extend the longevity of the hotels’ energy resources.

Furthermore, software engineering and robotics are essential for automating and remotely operating various hotel functions. This includes navigation, docking systems, and the deployment of housekeeping and maintenance robots.

Engineers develop sophisticated algorithms for autonomous systems, ensuring seamless communication between different modules and control centers on Earth, enhancing operational efficiency and guest experience.

In summary, the construction of space hotels like Voyager Station and Pioneer Station represents a multidisciplinary endeavor that synergizes diverse engineering skills. Integrating these disciplines will herald a new era in space tourism, making the cosmos more accessible and inviting for future generations.

Engineering the Future of Extraterrestrial Hospitality

As space hotels edge closer to reality, the future of extraterrestrial hospitality beckons with promise. Engineering feats in artificial gravity, structural resilience, and sustainable energy systems pave the way for unprecedented comfort and safety in orbit. These innovations expand human presence beyond Earth and transform space into a viable destination for leisure and exploration.

Looking ahead, space tourism is poised to become a mainstream industry, offering breathtaking views of Earth and the cosmos from luxurious accommodations. With ongoing advancements in technology and engineering, future generations can anticipate more accessible and inviting experiences in space hotels.

Ultimately, these endeavors exemplify humanity’s enduring quest to explore and inhabit the final frontier, marking a pivotal step towards a future where space travel is within reach for all.


A Hotel in Space Could Be Operational in Just Five Years

Are Space Hotels the Future of Travel?

Space Hotels: Civil Engineering’s New Frontier

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