Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Top 10 Things to Experience in A Space Hotel

A lot of excitement and talk has been about since the advent of Robert Bigelow's plans for launching hotels into space--and for good reason. An opportunity to stay overnight in space orbiting around the Earth and experiencing micro-gravity is definitely reason enough to be excited. What a lot of people don't know though is what you can do with this kind of setup. That is why I have decided to write this fun list:

The Top 10 Things to Experience in A Space Hotel

View from the Hubble Telescope. SpaceTelescope.org
# 10. Viewing the Northern & Southern Skies with hotel observatories.

With no light pollution and no atmosphere to interfere the view would be amazing. Stars would lose their distinctive "twinkle" without the atmosphere but different colors would become apparent. Those amazing images provided by Hubble could now be accessed by guests at any time.

# 9. Views of the Moon.

Simply put, a new perspective of that object in the sky that has been a fixture for eons. Again, without an atmosphere the view would be much clearer and telescopes would allow for very close views. Maps of the Moon could also be made available and you could point out different craters and and cracks.

# 8. Star... err... Earth Gazing.
Spectacular view of the Aurora Australis. Courtesy NASA.gov
Sitting in a space hotel that is at an altitude of approximately two to three hundred miles the Earth would almost entirely fill your view. Many of the fortunate few that have viewed the Earth from orbit have said it is impossible to be unaffected by the site. Other than being able to spot landmarks and geographical features there are many amazing things to see--even on the dark side of the Earth. Lightning flashes roughly 100 times a second and the aurorae (another awesome image taken from the ISS) near the magnetic poles dance brightly across as colorful rippling cones of light. Other amazing views include watching dusk and dawn outline the edges of the Earth with multicolored bands of light and the formation of different weather patterns.

# 7. Checking In.


Check in is a whole new experience in itself. You start by unbuckling yourself from your seat and gathering your luggage. After picking up your belongings you simply Velcro them to your body and float through the corridor! Guided by a railing you make your way towards the main entrance, gradually increasing in gravity until you can walk normally. The artificial gravity is produced by the slow rotations of the hotel container.

# 6. Checking Out.
Sunrise in orbit. Courtesy ESA.int
Checkout is more than the sad departure from this dream holiday; it has its own amazing experience attached too. After boarding the departing spacecraft you feel the sudden jerk of the ship separating from the docking bay and then the momentary surge of the thrusters as it moves away from the s
hip and towards the Earth for reentry. As you come back hurtling towards Earth at faster and faster speeds you start to see the air glow as it flies past the windows. Then the sky starts to change from a black into a dark blue until you hit the upper atmosphere. The sky is now a magnificent blue color. The sound of rushing air penetrates the cabin as clouds come closer and closer. The excitement soon comes to a close and you make a routine landing at the spaceport just like a plane does at the airport.

# 5. Weight Watching.

A space station presents an unique opportunity for experiencing different strengths of gravity. With multiple containers on the space hotel variable spinning speeds can be done. Set your containers speed to virtually zero and you can experience the weightlessness that astronauts of today encounter or if you're wanting to feel more at home you can set the revolutions per minute (rpm's) of your cabin to the equivalent of one G. Experimenting in between could also be quite fun. Simply adjust the rpm's so that you experience a weight of 100 lbs or even 20 lbs. Or, if you're wanting to build a little more muscle, you could even increase the relative gravity.
(see the physics behind this concept)

# 4. The Trampoline Room.


Not much to describe here, the title pretty much sa
ys it all. Micro-gravity + trampolines on the floor and ceiling = endless possibilities.

# 3. Space-Sports.
A Zero-G Arena. Courtesy Space.com
Variable artificial gravity opens up a whole new dimension for sports--literally. Games can now be played in 3-dimensions. A large, open container could be the new playing field for 3D tag or 3D dodge ball. Just imagining the more Earthly games such as soccer, basketball, and football in micro-gravity can make your mind swirl with excitement. Now, take wrestling and picture it in micro-gravity. Then, picture it in G-forces stronger than what we experience now. Are you starting to get the picture of all the possibilities? These are just different versions of already made games. New games are sure to be created. Anyone's guess is as good as mine when it comes to speculating the future of space sports but, just to get the ball rolling, I'll throw out a few ideas...
Once hotels are established in space bigger, newer inflatable stadiums could be launched into orbit or even constructed in space. Try to picture giant, inflated spheres with seating all around and the playing field, for whatever game/sport, right in the middle. Tweaking the relative G-force of the playing field could let humans fly like birds on Earth too. Strap on carbon-fiber (or some other lightweight material) wings and little stabilizers on the end of your feet, begin flapping, and away you can fly! After some practice you could eventually master diving and completing barrel rolls.
New (or old) contact sports could become a lot fiercer and at the same time a lot safer. With
lowered gravity falling becomes less of a hazard. Couple that with padded walls all the way around and the risk for injury is almost gone! You could try all the stunts that you could ever imagine and remain almost worry free!

Here's a cool article from Space.com that gives an early look at space sports going on now in a modified Boeing 727-200 aircraft that takes you for a free fall. They also speculate on the future of space sports.


# 2. Sleeping Arrangements.


The room! The setup would be similar to any Earthly hotel but the experience would be far from it. First, you have your window. Take a look outside at the Earth and the rest of space or get a fantastic view of the rest of the space hotel. With the room spinning to maintain artificial gravity your view will also be constantly changing.
Asleep in Space. Source: NASA.gov
The artificial gravity presents an unique aspect in itself too. Low-gravity could allow for perhaps the most comfortable sleeping conditions conceivable. When resting on the mattress in only a fraction of normal gravity your body is less compressed. That means your spine will straighten out and your body can completely relax. Blood circulation would also be at a maximum so you wouldn't have to worry about arms or legs falling asleep. Don't worry about falling off either; Velcro sheets could fasten you in. Evidence has supported this claim of better sleep in space too. Space.com wrote:
During a study of two 1998 space flights, five astronauts stopped snoring almost completely. The astronauts also experienced a significant decrease in sleep-disturbing periods of breathing cessation, called sleep apnea, as well as periods of slow and shallow breathing called hypopnea. more...


Oh, and with news of the plan for the first first ever honeymoon in space, I'm sure couples could**ahem** try various 'rendezvousing and docking' methods in partial or zero gravity.

and......


# 1. Low-G Swimming
Artist's rendition of a spinning, low-g swimming pool. Courtesy SpaceFuture.com
Artificial gravity has yet another fantastic exploit--a swimming pool! Water's properties combined with variable gravity make for an amazing combination. If the giant container is spinning the water will adhere to the inner walls. Imagine jumping out of the water, completing some acrobatics, and then flying back into the water on the ceiling above you! Large enough containers can allow for very high diving boards too. The typical 'daredevil' could make Olympic divers look like amateurs. Splashing games amongst friends will also suddenly have a whole new meaning with the addition of low G-forces. Swimmers can pick up large armfuls of water and hurl them in a wobbly mess across the pool--tidal-waving their friends rather than merely "splashing" them.

Take the water to a zero-G room and a slew of new forms of entertainment arise. You could literally grab blobs of water and throw them like snowballs across the room and watch them explode into pieces as they hit the wall. Jumping inside larger blobs of water is now possible too. Swim around like a goldfish in a fishbowl or simply blow bubbles on the inside of your blob. Next you exit the blob and mold it into various shapes. Pull the water out in strings or transform your blob into a donut by blowing a large bubble in the center and bursting it. Or you could try spinning it and watch it take all sorts of shapes.

...

Hopefully this list has piqued your imagination or at least given you some new information on the capabilities of space. If anyone has any other ideas for possible experiences in a space hotel let me know by adding a comment and I will add a "Bonus Section" for submitted ideas! I will also be sure to list your name (and website if applicable) next to the idea! I'm looking forward to your ideas so please add them!

Lastly I want to thank (and recommend) the book Your Spaceflight Manual for providing me inspiration for this piece and for providing me great information.

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15 comments:

dirk said...

sounds phat

Pat said...

Phat indeed ;).

Aidan said...

Man, consider my interest piqued. However, mind-blowing space activities aside, all I can think about is how much energy would be required to send the hordes of tourists into space each year, and how that relates to our environmental situation. I suppose (or hope) that by the time this is feasible, our energy crisis will be under control and/or a space elevator will be in operation.

Pat said...

My guess is that in the grand scheme of things it probably wouldn't use up too much energy. Considering that China is now industrializing itself along with India soon and the fact that they use even less efficient factories then we do (because of cost and regulations etc.) you'd have to think that sending even sending thousands of people to space would make up only a fraction of a fraction of a percent of total energy consumption. But, like you said, with the technology/time that it will take to reach that point I'm guessing that we would have access to many more resources out there in space. For example there has been Uranium found in lunar rocks and apparently a lot of Helium 3. Helium 3 could theoretically be used for fusion and since no natural Helium 3 exists on Earth I'm sure the Moon would be of some benefit :). Btw, Fusion energy would be very clean--non-pollutant and virtually no radioactive by-product unlike fission energy.

Anonymous said...

Come on. Those activities sound cool, but I mean who isn't thinking about sex when they think about fun things to do in space?

Pat said...

Haha, I believe that is the unspoken number 1 :).

Trevor said...

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Grant said...

this is the coolest f-ing thing ever. My imagination is going wild right now. Too bad we don't all live in the future :(

Trevor said...

All the technology is available. For 3,750,000,000.00 we could build an 84-unit hotel in LEO.
Our site is confusing but the 'continue' buttons will show you the plan. Find us at tasha9503.

Trevor said...

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This is do-able today with yesterday’s technology.

tasha9503 said...

Look at us now
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Trevor said...

Try looking this over
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reverse phone lookup said...

They need a space zoo with exotic space creatures.

xl pharmacy said...

It would be so so cool to be in a space hotel, I cant begin to imagine the views of the space from there.

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