Author Topic: How to build a 'Space Hotel'  (Read 7143 times)

Offline MattMason

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How to build a 'Space Hotel'
« on: 04/11/2016 05:27 PM »
There's lot of talk about the LEO commercial options for the average high-income Joe that wants to do more than taking a suborbital ride with Blue Origin or Virgin Galactic.

That "talk" often is known as the "space hotel." But there are problems with this concept that I'd like to explore in this thread. Here are some items to help start the discussion, but don't feel limited by them (with some exceptions noted after these).

Item 1: Hotels are typically your basecamp to a destination, not the destination itself. This means that "space hotel" is a misnomer, especially since conventional hotels do not travel in airless microgravity at 18,000 MPH. Would it be better to call such destinations as "space cruise ships?" How many modules would such a ship be for a passenger complement of 30-50?

Item 2: Like an ocean cruise ship, a space cruise ship would have to have lots of recreational amenities, some unique to space. What recreational options would be aboard? Would this require multiple modules? What TV or media options would be available? Mobility would be a plus and attract older or disabled people. Keep in mind that these passengers have spent a great deal of money to get there--just floating isn't an option. Don't ignore just passenger-oriented recreation but how spectator-based recreation might be done, and what kinds it may be (A Cirque de Soleil troupe would not be nearly as impressive in space, for example).

Item 3: Food and drink would be clearly a necessity. However, conventional meals couldn't be served in microgravity (I'm presuming the ship has no rotational structures--the folks are coming to enjoy weightlessness) unless a breakthrough occurs in convection. What foods and drink would be present? How would it be stored and how much food and drink would be routinely shipped? How much recycling could be done before the passengers find it less novel and more icky? How are you ridding yourself of unrecyclable trash? Trash drones that deorbit themselves?

Item 4: Since even cruise ships stop off at a port-of-call most times, what places could a space hotel send the most-rich passengers who want to go farther? The moon is a clear destination with a low-G true hotel there (with much of the challenges noted here already). What other places could passengers visit? Other space hotels (like traveling from one Vegas hotel/casino to another)? For the purposes of staying on-topic, leave Mars or the rest of the solar system out of it for now.

Item 5: Space is a dangerous place. How do you idiot-proof/terrorist-proof such a concept? What kind of lifeboats would be needed and used? (I imagine this is where Dream Chaser-branded versions could work.)

While other science facts such as the manner of transportation, including emergency transport, launch vehicles or companies are important, let's not let the thread get bogged down in them except to define the routines, contingencies, supplying, and passenger arrivals/departures. Today, we appear to have all the technology necessary for this concept--so we needn't invent much to play with the possibilities. (That is, leave warp drives, space elevators and other fantasy in other threads)

It is very probable that the first hotels would be Bigelow technology but let's not stay confined to this company if you have sourcing for alternatives.

The goal here is to imagine and quantify the content and construction of a space hotel/cruise ship and how to keep your passengers (and employees) fed, busy, safe, and coming back.

Renders are welcome and fun.
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Offline jtrame

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Re: How to build a 'Space Hotel'
« Reply #1 on: 04/11/2016 05:43 PM »
First random thoughts.
Recreational—one or two big spaces just for fun.  Inflatables are perfect for this as outer walls already padded. 

An observation lounge with large windows or cuppolas.

Start out with a few rooms in modules that fan out from a central hub, and expand over time to more hubs and more modules.

Plenty of docking ports around a central lobby.

Science modules for study and experiment.  Thinking on the same lines as eco lodges—guests interested in more than recreation, they want to participate in research or exploration.
Will need a workshop module for work on maintenance and repair.  Will need a staff.

10 Forward.

Great idea for a thread.

Offline bregallad

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Re: How to build a 'Space Hotel'
« Reply #2 on: 04/11/2016 05:55 PM »
I have always imagined that the main sections of a space hotel would be "low g". There guests can be served food at a table, sleep in a bed, work out in a low g environment, a generally "play" around in a familiar environment that's just slightly alien. It wouldn't be as jarring as 0g and might help some customers who might feel sick in 0g. However there would be a good amount of 0g activities and sections of the hotel/resort/cruise station.

A small crew of 5 should be plenty. One goes up and comes down with each weekly guest launch and land.
A "viewing room" is a must. One in low g and one in 0g.

The thing I'm describing is probably pretty big, but for a truly commercial successful venture, I believe that's what's necessary.

Offline chalz

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Re: How to build a 'Space Hotel'
« Reply #3 on: 04/13/2016 07:45 AM »
While items like cupolas and low G areas would be great ideas I think it is most useful to think about the minimal case, especially in light of the recent Bigelow press conference. What could be done with just one volume? A BA330 could have a docking port at one end and the solar panels and life support equipment at the other. I think only staying for 7-10 days or so would be feasable. Per person it might be $30m but for a rare experience I think it would be worth it to some people.

Hotel is the wrong description for it - it is an adventure holiday destination. The way to sell it would be like those luxury African safaris where you 'camp' in well appointed huts with assistants and support a phone call away. In space this would be one crew member per flight taking care of 4-5 clients.

Taking a leaf from Virgin Galactics book I think the experience would start on the ground with a month or two of 'training' which would also work as a vetting procedure for the company. Making sure they aren't carrying dangerous or vulnerable people, and matching personalities so crew and passengers can get on well and be assured of a good time.

You would carry up with you items you have selected and occupations you want to experience. It would be the guides job to have alternatives if zero g tennis gets boring after a few hours. I can imagine going to the science bay to watch the growing crystals that you planted or see spiders spinning webs. Perhaps an external camera, robot arm or even drone could be operated outside the station to get people a bit closer to an EVA experience.

Showering and toiletries would have a screened area or perhaps would happen back in the capsule, although the trip back might end up being smelly. With people being comfortable with each other sleeping in hammocks every night, communal living, would be a pretty good experience.

The first expansion I would make to the station would be a docking node to allow 2 visiting vehicles. Then you could have handovers between crew and passengers as well as the option for longer stays.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: How to build a 'Space Hotel'
« Reply #4 on: 04/13/2016 10:04 AM »
A large recreational area would be great way to experience zero G. An empty BA330 with no central column ie large BEAM.

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Offline MattMason

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Re: How to build a 'Space Hotel'
« Reply #5 on: 04/13/2016 11:33 AM »
To add more fruit to the conversation, you might not be acquainted with a space hotel design from a Russian aerospace firm named Orbital Technologies (no relation to Orbital ATK, the American aerospace firm that provides the Cygnus CRS supply spacecraft).

Nathan's latest ISS render (which can be publicly seen in this great Chris G. article on the anniversaries and events of the past week with ULA, Bigelow and Yuri's 55th) shows a BA330 connected to the ISS where PMA 1 resides. Not a bad place to keep some space tourists or commercial staff berthed.
« Last Edit: 04/13/2016 11:37 AM by MattMason »
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Offline RonM

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Re: How to build a 'Space Hotel'
« Reply #6 on: 04/13/2016 01:50 PM »
I have always imagined that the main sections of a space hotel would be "low g". There guests can be served food at a table, sleep in a bed, work out in a low g environment, a generally "play" around in a familiar environment that's just slightly alien. It wouldn't be as jarring as 0g and might help some customers who might feel sick in 0g. However there would be a good amount of 0g activities and sections of the hotel/resort/cruise station.

Yes, there needs to be a low gee section. Issues with adapting to 0 g can't be ignored. About half of the passengers will have a mild case of "space sickness" and about 10% will have severe symptoms.

An early space resort for intrepid adventures could be a Bigelow module, but later space resorts for the average rich person will need some sort of artificial gravity area. It wouldn't need much AG. AFAIK, none of the astronauts on the Moon complained about motion sickness. 0.16 g should be good enough. The spin section would need a large radius. If a person is susceptible to 0 g motion sickness, they would also have problems with high RPM.

Offline MattMason

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Re: How to build a 'Space Hotel'
« Reply #7 on: 04/13/2016 02:31 PM »
I have always imagined that the main sections of a space hotel would be "low g". There guests can be served food at a table, sleep in a bed, work out in a low g environment, a generally "play" around in a familiar environment that's just slightly alien. It wouldn't be as jarring as 0g and might help some customers who might feel sick in 0g. However there would be a good amount of 0g activities and sections of the hotel/resort/cruise station.

Yes, there needs to be a low gee section. Issues with adapting to 0 g can't be ignored. About half of the passengers will have a mild case of "space sickness" and about 10% will have severe symptoms.

An early space resort for intrepid adventures could be a Bigelow module, but later space resorts for the average rich person will need some sort of artificial gravity area. It wouldn't need much AG. AFAIK, none of the astronauts on the Moon complained about motion sickness. 0.16 g should be good enough. The spin section would need a large radius. If a person is susceptible to 0 g motion sickness, they would also have problems with high RPM.

So how would they make such an area? Any thoughts on the configuration of a BA-330 and some sort of AG hub?

I'm highly for such a location since there's also the big problem of teaching space tourists how to poop. If the hotel's passenger cabins (and maybe food prep)  were low-G, it would greatly ease a lot of potential challenges for eating, sleeping, distress, and hygiene.
« Last Edit: 04/13/2016 02:32 PM by MattMason »
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Offline RonM

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Re: How to build a 'Space Hotel'
« Reply #8 on: 04/13/2016 04:19 PM »
I have always imagined that the main sections of a space hotel would be "low g". There guests can be served food at a table, sleep in a bed, work out in a low g environment, a generally "play" around in a familiar environment that's just slightly alien. It wouldn't be as jarring as 0g and might help some customers who might feel sick in 0g. However there would be a good amount of 0g activities and sections of the hotel/resort/cruise station.

Yes, there needs to be a low gee section. Issues with adapting to 0 g can't be ignored. About half of the passengers will have a mild case of "space sickness" and about 10% will have severe symptoms.

An early space resort for intrepid adventures could be a Bigelow module, but later space resorts for the average rich person will need some sort of artificial gravity area. It wouldn't need much AG. AFAIK, none of the astronauts on the Moon complained about motion sickness. 0.16 g should be good enough. The spin section would need a large radius. If a person is susceptible to 0 g motion sickness, they would also have problems with high RPM.

So how would they make such an area? Any thoughts on the configuration of a BA-330 and some sort of AG hub?

I'm highly for such a location since there's also the big problem of teaching space tourists how to poop. If the hotel's passenger cabins (and maybe food prep)  were low-G, it would greatly ease a lot of potential challenges for eating, sleeping, distress, and hygiene.

Excellent questions. There are several threads discussing the best way to build AG space stations. Let's just say some sort of AG space station with an activity area for 0g at the hub for this discussion. Really depends on how big it will be. Will the modules be launched on a F9 or a BFR? Maybe a ring of BA-330 modules? In the far future, 2001: A Space Odyssey style wheels might be affordable.

Offline Oli

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Re: How to build a 'Space Hotel'
« Reply #9 on: 04/13/2016 04:33 PM »
Very important: Artifical gravity swimming pool. Preferably with transparent floor. Doubles as radiation shelter.


Offline gospacex

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Re: How to build a 'Space Hotel'
« Reply #10 on: 04/13/2016 04:37 PM »
First-generation "hotels" don't really need to be all fancy. There are a lot of people who would pay merely for the opportunity to go into orbit for a few days, even if they end up inside a "boring" Bigelow module.

Offline RonM

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Re: How to build a 'Space Hotel'
« Reply #11 on: 04/13/2016 05:01 PM »
First-generation "hotels" don't really need to be all fancy. There are a lot of people who would pay merely for the opportunity to go into orbit for a few days, even if they end up inside a "boring" Bigelow module.

That's right. A single BA-330 is good for six people. A Dragon and Starliner are limited to seven people at a time and one or two would have to be the crew. So say four or five passengers at a time. That will get things started. These adventure tourists won't mind the full astronaut experience, including inconveniences.

To keep costs down, the hotel BA-330 could be part of a larger complex of modules being used for research. Of course, not sensitive microgravity experiments, but those should be done on stations that are unmanned except for swapping out or repairing experiments.

Offline dodo

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Re: How to build a 'Space Hotel'
« Reply #12 on: 04/13/2016 05:34 PM »
Please don't underestimate the case presented by the low-G advocates. A vacation on a resort that smells like the previous visitor's puke is not a vacation. (Establishments on Earth included.)

Offline chalz

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Re: How to build a 'Space Hotel'
« Reply #13 on: 04/13/2016 05:43 PM »
Speaking of bodily fluids… In general hygiene is very difficult on ISS. Would it be necessary to send up a cleaning crew to a private station? Maybe every 3 months they make sure any fungal or bacterial outbreak is avoided. That adds a bit to the running costs. What if it has to be cleaned every fourth week? Now the minimum cost is effectively 25% more.

Offline MattMason

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Re: How to build a 'Space Hotel'
« Reply #14 on: 04/13/2016 06:38 PM »
Speaking of bodily fluids… In general hygiene is very difficult on ISS. Would it be necessary to send up a cleaning crew to a private station? Maybe every 3 months they make sure any fungal or bacterial outbreak is avoided. That adds a bit to the running costs. What if it has to be cleaned every fourth week? Now the minimum cost is effectively 25% more.

Some great thoughts here.

I agree things need not be fancy. But if you're ponying up a million or more to visit there for 3 days to a week, passengers will expect things to be fancy. Too many artist portrayals of futuristic living must now pay off big time. Remember that these aren't working astronauts to-be, but recreational ones. Some things might be expected ("space ice cream", however unreal, will be desired) and the view will certainly be different. But amenities of a 4-star quality should be part of the deal as so much as space allows it.

And "as allows it" goes with low-G. I didn't want to go down the route of the "2001" hub station myself. I would imagine something simpler since, with a expandable module(s) like BA-330, you're trying to minimize what has to be built. In short, if you can berth or dock it, then fill in the interior and grow it later, the faster and cheaper you'll be in business. But a low-G addition, at least for the passenger cabins, sounds like the best option.  It also compartmentalizes things for privacy and clean up.

Being a space hotel, it would be most fitting for it to have an actual staff that stays aboard for several months, rotating out, cleaning and stocking. Otherwise, nothing would get clean and stay clean. It's part of the reason we like hotels: room service and any food or drink or extra pillow we want. The maintenance staff would be literally out of this world as they would be engineers to keep the station safe, fix minor and major issues and support all safety issues.

Speaking of privacy, I will address the 1-ton floating elephant in the room very briefly, or should I say in the hotel bed. That privacy thing is one reason why I don't see a communal hotel as practical, especially as you could have a in-residence staff. Rule 34 is going to apply in space. BUT--Let's apply the Rule of Cautious Editing and Commentary, however, and not go down That Road about how or if space nooky is going to be the next thing. And no jokes like "thruster activity" ('cause I got it out there first and last so you won't have to).

Another reason for privacy: Some very rich people may choose a permanent lease on their cabin to make it a space home. This then leads into the ability of the hotel/cruise to increase in size as demand warrants by adding more BEAM-size dwellings. This also leads to power, cooling, storage, staffing, et all.

That's why I started this thread. It's more complicated than the launch or machinery.
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Offline Kansan52

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Re: How to build a 'Space Hotel'
« Reply #15 on: 04/13/2016 06:55 PM »
"Camp in Space!" (Not to be confused by Space Camp.)

I like the idea. Lowers expectation. No fancy luxury suite or zero g pool or jetting around in a space suit but much more bare bones.

But it implies a guide and that will probably be the key. A high end experience while training. Once in the bare bones facility, do the water ball fun and stuff like that with the guide leading the experience. A person with skills plus training to entertain the customers would seem to be key.

Heck, maybe you could jet around a bit. Blow up a big balloon and use it as a jet pack inside the module.

Offline MattMason

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Re: How to build a 'Space Hotel'
« Reply #16 on: 04/13/2016 07:07 PM »
"Camp in Space!" (Not to be confused by Space Camp.)

I like the idea. Lowers expectation. No fancy luxury suite or zero g pool or jetting around in a space suit but much more bare bones.

But it implies a guide and that will probably be the key. A high end experience while training. Once in the bare bones facility, do the water ball fun and stuff like that with the guide leading the experience. A person with skills plus training to entertain the customers would seem to be key.

Heck, maybe you could jet around a bit. Blow up a big balloon and use it as a jet pack inside the module.

Good point.

Perhaps we could or should divide the space dwellings into some categories:

* Space cruise/hotel: High amenities, great view, private dwellings, in-house staff.
* Space Camp/Hostel: Low amenities, communal living, lower cost, great teaching or experience opportunity, shorter visit, staff comes and goes with campers.

Any other possibilities?
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Offline RonM

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Re: How to build a 'Space Hotel'
« Reply #17 on: 04/13/2016 07:24 PM »
"Camp in Space!" (Not to be confused by Space Camp.)

I like the idea. Lowers expectation. No fancy luxury suite or zero g pool or jetting around in a space suit but much more bare bones.

But it implies a guide and that will probably be the key. A high end experience while training. Once in the bare bones facility, do the water ball fun and stuff like that with the guide leading the experience. A person with skills plus training to entertain the customers would seem to be key.

Heck, maybe you could jet around a bit. Blow up a big balloon and use it as a jet pack inside the module.

Good point.

Perhaps we could or should divide the space dwellings into some categories:

* Space cruise/hotel: High amenities, great view, private dwellings, in-house staff.
* Space Camp/Hostel: Low amenities, communal living, lower cost, great teaching or experience opportunity, shorter visit, staff comes and goes with campers.

Any other possibilities?

Extended Stay: For corporate or university researchers who want to personally maintain their experiments. Similar to a corporate space station, but with multiple small labs for organizations that can't afford or don't need their own dedicated facilities.

Imagine being a grad student sent to LEO for a semester.

Offline bregallad

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Re: How to build a 'Space Hotel'
« Reply #18 on: 04/13/2016 07:46 PM »
There is merit to the "space camp" idea, but not at the current prices. For a commercially viable venture, there needs to be a lot of high dollar interest. Other than the few very rich space enthusiasts, it needs to be "luxurious" enough to attract the very rich "kinda curious" type too, hence the low gee sections. These sections solve so many problems that arise in 0g.
Other than the artificial gravity, there are few challenges left to building a true space hotel other than the potential luxury hotel desires like large windows, pools, showering in space, laundry, food prep etc.
These things just haven't been done in space yet...
« Last Edit: 04/13/2016 07:47 PM by bregallad »

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: How to build a 'Space Hotel'
« Reply #19 on: 04/13/2016 08:23 PM »
We do not have to wait for a space hotel before building a 1 kW microwave oven. It may need a rotating plastic bar up the centre to stop it wobbling.

A space refrigerator may be harder because they contain moving liquids. Although since the ISS has cooling systems it is not impossible.