It’s the perfect cultural time to sway Kennedy-era optimism from a space hotel to a country full of unstable closures. We’re as ready to flee as Andy Dufresne tunneling out of Shawshank State Prison and, man, do we need an escape.
From a 3 1/2 a day trip to the Voyager resort costs $ 5 million, thinking about what a lot of us will ever do, but it’s still fun. It’s like when you put 67 things in your Etsy cart and then sign out. As Debbie Harry sang, dreaming is free.
“It’s inspiring,” says hospitality expert Anthony Melchiorri, co-host of the “Checking in With Anthony and Glenn” podcast and host of Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible”. “And it’s ambitious. You wanna go, you wanna do this. And whether or not that happens in a few years, it just tells you how important travel is and how important hotels are, especially now. “
Space hotels, Melchiorri notes, have been an idea that has revolved around the industry for decades. Hilton “wanted to put a hotel on the moon in the 1960s, so it’s something people have been thinking and dreaming about for a long time,” he says. The idea was even promoted with key mockups and promotional reservation forms for the “Lunar Hilton”.
Other space tourism projects are in the works, including Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship III, as retro-future glamor as “Barbarella,” and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, with a 360-degree glass dome that resembles Pop- O-Matic from the Trouble board game. (Orbital Assembly will likely work with SpaceX to complete the hotel.) Both are expected to transport civilians into the cosmos this year.
“Spaceship” and “capsule”, however, lack the comfortable familiarity of “hotel”. This word makes it more desirable to those of us who are less mastery of space. It might look like a giant bicycle tire, but it will also have some elements that we recognize, like maybe a gift shop full of Mars and Milky Way special edition bars or shirts that say, “My friend paid. $ 5 million to go to space and everything I got this bad T-shirt.
With that in mind, I asked experts in travel, hospitality and real and imaginary space what they would look for in a space hotel. Fortunately, none of them said “atmosphere”.
A great view is always a plus in a hotel, and in a space hotel, your view would constantly change. “Every 90 minutes or so, you will circle the earth once, but half an orbit from the hotel later, you will be looking at the sky,” explains Richard Jerousek, planet specialist and professor at the university. of central Florida. “A telescope that counter-rotates to account for the hotel’s rotation wouldn’t be a bad idea for a close-up view of the planets and the moon,” he said.
“You can also take amazing photos of nebulae and galaxies.”
One thing I haven’t seen listed in the Voyager resort’s promotional material is a swimming pool, which is a pretty standard feature of the hotel. Jerousek warns that artificial lunar gravity would affect the water: all waves would be bigger, but their speed would be slower, and our intuition about how they move would be disabled. Jerousek would spend a few more days on board getting used to this kind of high, he said, in order to better experience all that a space hotel has to offer.
There are obvious draws to a hotel in space, like looking out the window for hours, if not days, and trying to figure out that you have actually left the planet. You can’t get any further away from it all. A quiet spacewalk followed by a workout in an anti-gravity gym seems ideal. In terms of amenities, experiencing lunar gravity, which is lighter than Earth’s, for the duration of your stay in a space hotel, is worth a free robe. (The hotel’s website shows guests on a basketball court jumping so high they’re level with the back panel.)
But Susan Moynihan, travel consultant at Honeymoonist and Largay Travel, wonders about the disappointment. “When I come back to Earth, I’ll probably feel even heavier in comparison, like existential space-age jet lag,” she said.
While we’re talking about looking good, all of the first wave space hotels should look like something straight out of “The Jetsons,” the early 1960s animated TV series that gave us hope for a flying car future and of jet packs, or “Logan’s Run,” the 1976 sci-fi classic that was a scintillating dystopia. It should be as light, sleek, and shiny as we thought the future was going to be back in the acrylic age.
It should mimic the “JFK, the Pan Am building and the ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ aesthetic at a T, all shiny white and red pile carpet, baby,” says Charles Martin, a frequent panelist at science conventions. fiction in the United States abroad, and co-host of the Space Javelin tech news podcast.
As you might expect, former Marriott and Hilton executive Tristan Ishtar has more practical concerns. Staffing, to begin with. “Where are you going to find PhDs in astroengineering who will work for minimum wage in the maintenance department?” he asks. “Although I suspect all of the hotel staff would be NASA-trained astronauts.”
Science fiction writer Andy Weir, author of “The Martian” and “Project Hail Mary,” doubts the scale of the business. Weir’s novel “Artemis” is set in a man-built city on the moon, so he knows the land, so to speak.
“It would be considerably easier to build the city [on the moon] than to build this space hotel, I think, ”he says.
That’s not to say that he doesn’t see any potential in the idea. I asked him what he thought the hotel’s signature drink should be, and he suggested a “Tequila Sunrise Challenge – drink a tequila at sunrise at every sunrise.” On a space station, there will be one every 90 minutes. How long can you continue? “
Registration, however, is another story. “I would never go at all,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to go to space on a NASA mission either. I don’t want to go to space. I am tied to the Earth. At first I am shocked. Then I remember his most famous work being that of someone who gets stuck there.
“I write about courageous people. I’m not one of them. I like to use my imagination. I like pizza. I like knowing that the atmosphere stays here, as does gravity.
People often ask him, he says, what he would do if offered free space travel.
“I would sell it,” he said.
Melchiorri is also wary.
“A hotel is not a hotel, it is a house,” he says. “So if you go to space, you trust this hotel to keep you alive, literally.” If the same is true for an Earth hotel, “it’s a different level of security and a different level of commitment than the hotel.”
Because of this, whether space hotels open in five or 15 years, Melchoirri says he won’t be the first person to check in.
“As the project is being built by NASA veterans, I have no doubts that when completed it will be at least as safe as your standard hotel,” says Martin. “But if I get there and the computer system is called HAL, I turn around and go home.”
Fair enough. Since I got nervous watching the roller coaster, I don’t know why my mind went so fast in space. I can get a tangtini, a real cocktail that contains vodka, orange juice, and a tang drink mix, here.
Still, I can’t help but imagine staring at Earth from my hotel window – seeing all the places I’ve never been and thinking how close we are to being able to explore home again.
Langley is an Orlando-based writer. Find her on Twitter: @LizLangley.