I'm hoping it will be a big, rotating, circular space station with a Hilton hotel in it (and video phone booths).
Airbus will help build a replacement for the International Space Station (ISS), planned for five years from now. The European aerospace outfit is already a supplier to European Space Agency's ISS operations and built the Bartolomeo payload platform that eases the process of operating kit on the space station. The aerospace …
A BA 2100 module is about as big as a Starship could launch. 21 modules in a ring gives a 120m diameter like the London eye. The BA series modules were intended to be zero gravity work shops, so the design would have to be revisited if you want to spin the ring. You will also need solar panels and radiators to get rid of the heat. If you cannot wait for Starship then you could try 23x B330 launched by Falcon 9.
The scale is not technically unfeasible but it would be financial a disaster with only Dragon+Starliner+Soyuz+Shenzou to populate it with tourists. Ask again when Starship is taking a hundred people to orbit and back with a ticket price order of magnitude $100K.
" ticket price order of magnitude $100K."
For that kind of money I think you will be utterly overwhelmed and with a waiting list of years or decades.
I see the issue as being all the training and medical requirements beforehand.
I suspect $100k is no different in realistic terms than the costs of early intercontinental air flights.
Thinking I had missed something important I followed the wikipedia link.....
"The BA 2100, or Olympus, is a conceptual inflatable space habitat by Bigelow Aerospace."
No idea who bigelow aerospace are, but this is just a concept for a space pod. No sign of it existing or being planned.
Like many fellow commentards (I suspect), I also had concepts for space pods, almost identical to this concept.....
When I was 9 or 10 years old.
None of them ever got past the conceptual stage or drawing board either. Or the back of cornflake packet.
Bigelow have got a pretty good history. They launched two test models of their inflatable space thingies into orbit 15 years ago. To see how well they stood up to orbit. They've since had their experimental habitat attached to the ISS since 2021. So I'd say they've got a decent track record.
On the other hand their units are designed for microgravity. Not to bear weight. I very much doubt that they're strong enough - because if they were, then Bigelow would have designed them badly for an enviroment where that strength isn't required and would increase launch costs.
Bigelow Aerospace died so long ago that young wipper snappers would not have heard of them. Their timing was awful: inflatable space station modules after ISS but before launch prices fell. As mentioned, one module (BEAM) is currently attached to the ISS. The tech is sufficiently old that others could build them.
I chose them because there are proposed sizes that match modern launch vehicles - a cheat to do some back of the envelope calculations. No great rush to be more accurate. Big space stations will not be financially viable until some sort of cheap mass transport to LEO is available.
" Ask again when Starship is taking a hundred people to orbit and back with a ticket price order of magnitude $100K."
Yeah, but only 4 of them can debark into StarLab, and that's assuming it's empty at the time of arrival or all the current occupants are planning on leaving together.
Seriously though, talk about lack of ambition! StarLab will be able to "host" 4 people. I really hope that's just the starting module and it will be extensible.
On the other hand, I could imagine SpaceX fitting out a Starship as a space station and just launching it as is. I'm sure there must be a way to have a docking port somewhere.
NASA *hates* building anything that looks like stuff that was present in "2001" because it makes them look foolish ("Why didn't they build that when it was already in that movie from 1968!"). Now, finally some companies are thinking about building a spinning wheel in space. But I believe NASA will be reluctant to fund them.
We've spend 50 years trying to come up with an exercise regime, dietary supplements and medicines to fight muscle atrophy from weightlessness with zero results. We spend untold billions experimenting and getting more data. All this research merely confirms that we can't live without (artificial) gravity in space for long periods of time.
NASA should've taken a clue from "2001" after all.
Your argument seems rather unfair to NASA.
Firstly we didn't have the technology to launch a rotating habit to create its own gravity. At least not at anything other than insane cost. We may have it with Falcon Heavy, and soon Starship, where we've got affordable heavy-lift. But the only plausible way to do it before was Project Orion - which involved a few hundred atmospheric nuclear explosions. So even if not outlawed under the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty - still wouldn't be all that cheap.
Secondly we didn't know if we'd be able to come up with regimes that would allow longer time spent in space, until we'd done the experimentation.
But the first point is still the most important.
Creating artificial gravity means building a space station strong enough to survive being spun up to create that gravity. Which means it's going to need to have extra stuctural strength, which means it's going to mass more. Plus it's got to be physically large in order to have usable space at a decent gravity. Extra mass = extra launches = extra budget = extra risk of a module blowing up on launch and needing to be replaced = extra construction/assembly time in space = extra risk to astronauts.
There are no easy answers. It is rocket science.
Here's my take on a spinning space station: "we have gravity at home".
One of the main points of going to a space station is the microgravity environment.
The main reason I can think of for having artificial gravity in space would be for the health of astronauts on a lengthy voyage (like a trip to Mars).
There might be some advantages to a Earth orbiting space station having some portion with artificial gravity (maybe even if it was only 0.5G or something), possibly for tasks like sleeping, eating, and other tasks that are difficult in microgravity. Given that astronauts can take a few days to adapt to weightlessness (and to re-adapt after their return) that might not be all that helpful.
Granted, we'd want to prototype a spinning station in orbit around Earth before slinging it off to Mars.
NASA has never seriously examined construction of structures in space to enable building a spinning wheel space station. I believe it could've been done have a century ago if they'd put their minds to it, but they took the cheaper route. Obviously a small camper in space is much cheaper and more convenient to transport into orbit.
Now half a century later we're back to square one because we've come to the undeniable conclusion that we need artificial gravity to safely live in space. We now need to tackle the problem anyway.
Also note that the gravity doesn't have to be 1g per se. It can be less which would lighten the structural stresses on the wheel and allow for cheaper and less exotic materials to be used.
In my opinion NASA already looks foolish having refused to even discuss artificial gravity for 50 years. They kept saying that new medicines would be developed on ISS that would eliminate the need.
"I believe it could've been done have a century ago if they'd put their minds to it,"
I'm not sure the "rocket ships" of 1923 were really up to the job of lofting up that amount of hardware, no matter how much time and effort they put into it. I mean, the first non-stop trans-Atlantic flight had only happened 4 years previously, so that'd be one hell of a leap in technology!
"Falcon Heavy, and soon Starship, "
Falcon Heavy isn't going to help with physically large structures and Starship isn't anything you want to pin any hopes on at this point. It's unknown whether Elon will be allowed to blow any more up in Texas and is banned from testing it at the Kennedy Space Center until it's proven enough that they won't worry about the thing detonating and destroying all of historic Pad 39A in the process. SpaceX may need to buy some barren land in the middle of Texas like another company has where they can explode stuff and not bother anybody with it or wipe out a few endangered animals, cause international issues, etc.
There's nothing historic about Pad 39A, it's merely a spot in the huge reserve NASA has at its disposal.
For example, 39A looks today completely different than it looked during the Shuttle era, which looked completely different when Apollo was launching. It's basically just a slab of concrete which, if Starship were to blow up there, could easily be replaced by another slab.
People are attaching some magical and spiritual context to Pad 39A, but it's nothing of importance really.
"People are attaching some magical and spiritual context to Pad 39A, but it's nothing of importance really."
yeah, I can imagine the apathy when some newsie announces that Pad 39A, the site where Neil, Buzz and Michael left to put boot prints on the Moon for the first time on Apollo 11 has been wiped flat then coated with sparkly bits of stainless steel. (/sarc)
"and Starship isn't anything you want to pin any hopes on at this point."
I think I'd pin more hope on Starship than Artemis to get big stuff into space. And FWIW, the structures don't need to be all that big. They need to be modular. Atlas, Delta heavy, Ariane 5 (now defunct) & 6 (yet to be proven), Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy all have pretty much the same 4.6m diameter max. capacity. Lengths and total mass varies for each launch vehicle, none have quite as large a capacity as the Shuttle bay although again, it had the same 4.6m limit on payload diameter and we got the ISS built using that and other launchers so I don't see any reason why, if we chose to, we could not have something much bigger up there, possibly even a spinning wheel or something equivalent. Currently, the cheapest is probably using SpaceX launchers since we already know they work out much cheaper per launch and turnaround on that first stage is pretty fast these days.
"for a 1g station."
Agreed re the nausea, but the real question is do we need to go all the way to 1G? We already know the issues with extended periods in microgravity, but haven't been able to study the effects of 1/6th or 1/3rd gravity, either of which may well be enough to eliminate the problems and something we really ought to find out before planning permanent "crewing" of Moon or Mars bases.
"Humans do not do well in rotating systems. Coriolis forces bugger of the cochlea: the outer surfaces of a rotating space station would be awash with vomit within minutes. It was a pretty idea for the film but is a complete non-starter for practical use."
The size of the structure has to be really large to avoid those effects. It could be done, but the size, cost and time it would take would be enormous. NASA is usually starved for budget just to get done what the politicians have mandated they do. If NASA's budget were swapped with the US military budget, big rotating habitats would be no problem.
" ...and room service of course."
It would be silly to expect that. If you look at the number of crew on a cruise ship, it's easy to see that the same level of service on a space station would not work. The cost to support the staff would be insane, but the rich tourists would still demand to be catered to and they'd be unlikely to have any technical skills to do any needful things themselves. The meals for the current ISS crew costs thousands per portion with most of that just in transportation costs.
"he meals for the current ISS crew costs thousands per portion with most of that just in transportation costs."
Which is one of the main reasons why we should have been building City-Farms in high orbit fifty years ago.
Growing foods in orbit, even fake "beefburgers" in vats, would, once the farms and support cities were up there, be literally dirt cheap. Sending them around the
various sciencey, techie and engineering stations would be simple orbital mechanics and timing. Fetching waste, such as sewage, to help defray some of
the burden of replacements of volatiles is simply returning the Pizza-delivery vans full instead of empty.
We should have been sending up scores of Skylabs and MIR's and using the shells of re-supply modules as extra mass for add-ons so that by now we'd have
the infrastructures to create a vast Civilisation off-world. We should be using the re-supply modules to add to the ISS right now.
Of course, we should also have the Hubble in high orbit, with the infrastructure up there to add to and maintain it, as well as Hubble-27 and friends but that, too
is a non-starter.
It's a shame that start to the grabbing of the Human Galaxy will never happen, is no longer possible.
That the Dream Of Stars is dead.
"Of course, we should also have the Hubble in high orbit, with the infrastructure up there to add to and maintain it, as well as Hubble-27 and friends but that, too"
Perhaps Hubble 3.0. There have been some very big advances in ground based astronomy and as long as there aren't 10's of thousands of satellites in LEO to cloud the view, it's still possible to plenty of valid science for lots less money. JWST was chosen over another visible wavelength telescope to get a broader view of what's out there rather than a deeper look. There's only so much budget to go around after the weather service and IRS have paid the invoices for the pallets of ammunition they've been ordering in the US.
"Trump would most likely just demand they add more floors to an earth-based tower until it reached space :-)"
Such a thing could possibly be done on Ceres and anything smaller. Some falling rocks even have littly, baby rocks already in orbit around
them that could be used for construction materials or asteroidal-stationary mid-points.
Maybe Pluto, too, though a Pluto-Charon Bridge might be more fun and easier. For a Plutonian Orbital Tower one would probably need to spin-up
the planet so the "centrifugal force" could be high enough to keep it upright. Looking at it another way, we'd need to create a viable stationary orbit
for the Plutono-stationary centre-of-gravity of the tower to live in. Spinning-up a planet is simple engineering and highly expensive economics. It
would do things to the P-C barycentre. Maybe.
Eros could have a launch tower poking out. Maybe two, for symmetry.
An orbital Tower on Venus would have to be large enough to reach half-way to Mercury. She doesn't rotate very very rapidly so cythero-stationary orbits
are extremely wide. Spinning up Venus would be a tiny bit beyond Man's present economic base. Though, if done, it would help with Greening the place.
Note: I said "easier" about the Bridge, not "easy". :)
I wonder whether, when Mr. T. wins next year, we could interest him in building things like these? As Vanity projects, they would quite literally be out of
this world. Why have a face carved into one tiny, obscure hilltop when one could use entire *worlds*?
I highly doubt that decor is going to be considered on a space station. Mass is always a huge concern. The cost to get it into orbit and the amount of DeltaV is takes to move the station once it's there are big concerns. Just like a Navy ship, having all of the workings visible and accessible is required. Nobody wants to have to rip away fake potted plants and wall panels to get to a leak.
"Nobody wants to have to rip away fake potted plants and wall panels to get to a leak."
That is just engineering and designing. Make the potted plant tubs and the thin, pretilly dyed walls behind them easily moved and you can access everything
easily, rapidly and safely. Make them easily moveable and you could even change the decor every so often. This should be one of the *first* things thought of
when building stuff.
And every single room in every suite whether for tourist or crew could have their own "window", a low power screen showing the Cosmos from the non-rotating
hub. Those would double as large comms-computer-wallpaper screens.
Why does everyone *always* insist on making things ugly, expensive and bloody difficult? Cheap and pretty works in Hotels down here. We are currently
hiding hundreds of millions of kilometres of piping in our buildings and we've been doing it for over two millennia. Doing it on warships and orbiting habitats
isn't exactly rocket science.
And the issue of bugs building up behind the panels and around the piping? Well, many supermarkets down here sell shopping bags with anti-microbial
inner linings. I'm sure the bright ladies and gentlemen at J.P.L. could use that concept. Or something better.