Ever since the first person visited space, taking our own trip to space has become one of the top bucket list items for wealthy individuals. Thanks to The Gateway Foundation, we’re just a few short years away from being able to realize this dream. The Foundation recently announced that they’re in the process of designing the world’s first space hotel, with a projected opening in 2027.
According to Tim Alatorre — the Von Braun Space Station’s senior design architect — the hotel will function much more like a cruise ship or theme park than a typical space station. In other words, the station’s design will be far more aesthetically pleasing than the industrial retro-futurism of outer-space architecture we commonly see in the movies.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this undeniably spectacular plan is the fact that the design concepts were first created all the way back in the 1950s. In fact, the space station’s name is derived from Wernher von Braun, the man who originally developed the plans for this incredible hotel. Von Braun’s original vision was many years ahead of its time, and the current designs are startlingly similar to his initial plans.
The Von Braun Space Station is based around a massive wheel measuring 190 meters in diameter, which will constantly rotate in a way that produces artificial gravity with a force roughly equivalent to that found on the moon. The station will include 24 individual modules with 500 square meters of usable floor space each, positioned around the outer edge of the wheel. These modules will include hotel rooms, private residences, scientific research stations, event spaces, and entertainment districts including bars, restaurants, movie theaters, and concert venues.
Because of the station’s simulated gravity, The Gateway Foundation has found ways around many of the most uncomfortable aspects of life in outer space. For example, the hotel will include typical flushing toilets, showers with hot running water, and fully stocked kitchens where familiar meals can be prepared.
One area of concern for the design team is making sure the environment doesn’t feel too sterile or alien for guests to be comfortable. Thanks to technological developments that have produced lightweight design alternatives to wood, stone, and marble, Von Braun Space Station will include accommodations that look and even feel quite similar to surfaces we have in our own homes on Earth.
Current plans for the hotel indicate that the Von Braun Space Station will be able to handle around 100 guests each week and could hold up to 400 permanent residents. What’s even more impressive is the fact that The Gateway Foundation views this station as a sort of test run before they begin work on constructing their main goal: a new, never-before-attempted “Gateway-class” space station.
These bigger and even more ambitious stations will host over 1,400 people, and The Gateway Foundation intends for them to operate like fully functioning cities. Not only will these Gateway-class space stations be self-contained societies equipped with everything necessary to live in space full-time, but they will also serve as transportation hubs for people traveling between the moon, Earth, and Mars. (If that sounds like something straight out of science fiction, that’s probably because it’s nearly identical to the space transportation system Brad Pitt used in the recent film “Ad Astra.”)
So, how will such a structure be built? The construction plans for the Von Braun Space Station are as innovative as the hotel’s design itself. Unlike the International Space Station, which was assembled in orbit by astronauts on spacewalks, the Von Braun facility will be constructed in space using mostly automated machinery. The raw materials will be transported from Earth in small, easily manageable parcels. Once they’re in space, the parts will be positioned and assembled by a variety of drones and robots, with some trickier parts assembled by people in small pods.
While there’s no word yet on how expensive trips to the Von Braun Space Station will be, Allatore says that prices upon the hotel’s opening will be “fairly high,” but that The Gateway Foundation hopes to get the costs down to the point where a trip to space is comparably priced to a trip to another continent on Earth.
It’s amazing to think of the fact that this visionary space station is projected to be fully operational within just a few short years. While The Gateway Foundation isn’t yet accepting reservations, we still strongly recommend keeping an eye on their construction progress. We have a sneaking suspicion that demand for accommodations in this first-ever space hotel will be quite high. ■