The Gateway Foundation, a private company developing a space hotel, thinks “the first spaceport” could be accepting hotel guests by 2025. The Foundation’s Von Braun Rotating Space Station will orbit Earth and will accommodate not only scientific research but also visiting tourists looking to experience life away from our home planet.
But, while any timeline for the creation of such a structure would be daunting, the Gateway Foundation plans to build the spaceport as early as 2025 (with the support of the space construction company Orbital Assembly).
The first commercial space hotel will be more like a cruise ship than Stanley Kubrick’s sleek space station from 2001, says Tim Alatorre, senior design architect of the Von Braun Space Station. It will have gravity, full-working kitchens, bars, and interiors made with natural materials and colours. “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.
Alatorre, is also treasurer and an executive team member at the Gateway Foundation, the Von Braun station is designed to be the largest human-made structure in space. It will consist of a 190-metre-diameter wheel that will rotate to create a gravitational force similar to that felt on the moon. Around the wheel will be 24 individual modules fitted out with sleeping accommodation and other support functions. “There will also be many of the things you see on cruise ships: restaurants, bars, musical concerts, movie screenings, and educational seminars,” explained Alatorre.
Some modules will be sold as private residences, while others will be rented to governments for scientific purposes. In total the Gateway Foundation expect the population of the station to be around 400.
As its name implies, the concept for the station is inspired in part by the ideas of Wernher von Braun, 1912-1977, who pioneered in the field of human spaceflight first for Nazi Germany and then for the U.S. This design is inspired by his ideas for a rotating space station, which were derived from other, older ideas. “He had inherited a lot of ideas from previous scientists and authors and theorists, so it wasn’t entirely his idea for the torus-shaped, doughnut-shaped space station, but he kind of adopted it. He expanded upon it and eventually, he popularized it,” Gary Kitmacher, who works for NASA in the International Space Station program, told Space.com. Kitmacher also has worked on the design of the space station, NASA’s shuttle program, Spacehab and Mir, and has contributed as an author in textbooks and to the book “Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space (Smithsonian Books, 2018).”
Additionally, “the inspiration behind it [this space station] really comes from watching science fiction over the last 50 years and seeing how mankind has had this dream of starship culture,” Alatorre told Space.com.
The team drew inspiration partially from Von Braun’s concept of a rotating space station that utilizes artificial gravity for the comfort of its passengers. But, while this new design will use artificial gravity in areas of the station, it will also have spaces on board that will allow passengers to feel the weightlessness of space.
The ultimate goal for this station is to have it include amenities ranging from restaurants and bars to sports that would allow passengers to take full advantage of weightlessness on board the station. The station will also have programs that include the arts, with concerts on board. “We do hope, though, that people take the time to be inspired, to write music, to paint, to take part in the arts,” Alatorre said.
Gateway Foundation officials acknowledge that the station might not be entirely finished by 2025, but the group aims to develop the station’s main structure and basic functions by then. “We expect the operation to begin in 2025, the full station will be built out and completed by 2027. … Once the station’s fully operational, our hope, our goal and our objective is to have the station available for the average person,” Alatorre said. “So, a family or an individual could save up reasonably … and be able to have enough money to visit space and have that experience. … It would be something that would be within reach.”