As I mentioned earlier, my co-op position at P&G ended in July, and I have been back in Atlanta ever since, waiting for January 2011, when I will go back to Georgia Tech to take the two classes I need to graduate (the clases are only offered in the Spring semester, which is why I have to wait until January).
One of the ways I have been making my time productive is by doing some personal design projects. My favorite one that I am working on is a project that I have been thinking about for some time: An orbiting space hotel. Okay that sounds pretty nerdy, and perhaps it is, but let’s be a little forward-thinking for a moment. As time goes by, more innovations are made to advance cheaper, cleaner, and safer ways to carry humans into space. And now that Obama has put space travel in the hands of the private sector, free market competition is gaining more and more momentum in the realm of “space tourism.” Sure, no one in your neighborhood has participated…yet. But as we speak, competitions such as the X-prize continue to push engineers to create a sustainable market for space tourism.
So it’s really only a matter of time before space tourism ends up being more accessible to people. And when that happens.. Who knows? We might have space theme parks, space universities, and space McDonald’s one day! But before any of that happens, its a sure bet that there will be space hotels. If people (albeit incredibly rich people) are willing to pay exorbitant amounts of money to experience weightlessness and the ability to view the Earth form within the confines of a cramped, loud, and seemingly disorganized research station, then surely there is a market for those same offworld experiences within the confines of a place that is designed with luxury and comfort in mind. Occupants wouldn’t be able to travel anywhere from the space hotel except back down to Earth, so the hotel will have to include sufficient entertainment and facilities for a stay of a week or so. Think of it more of a cruise ship than a Days Inn.
So I have gone about creating this environment for about 30 customers to occupy for about a week. This is an exercise in problem solving; how much must change with the absence of gravity and weight? So many products rely on the simple systems of gravity: chairs have legs to hold themselves off the ground, blankets can unquestionably rest on our bodies with the gentle push of gravity, and cups can have a wide open top because there is no fear of our drinks floating out in a slow explosion of deliciously-flavored droplets. Many comforts have simply been done away with in our current forms of space habitation. But I’m trying to keep this projcet as close toreality as posible, so I am researching the few advances that life aboard the space shuttle and Space Station has brought: Zero-G toilets, showers, microwaves, appetizing food preparation, water faucets, and ventilation systems.
I’m finding out that I’m actually designing a whole new world, and I find myself constantly thinking about what I could design for it. Does this hotel have a branding strategy? What kind of footwear does one wear on a space hotel? Can people just use their cell phones to communicate via commercial satellites? What does a zero-G library look like?
So far I’ve come up with plans for a bedroom, bathroom, and two resteraunts. I’ve also designed beds, dressers, and a sustainable drinkware system for the space hotel. I plan on utelizing a variety of artistic and design techniques, so that I can explore different ways of expressing ideas seen as I explore what life on the Space Hotel will be like.
Above is a view from a bed in the hotel. Note that the lounging area is on the “ceiling.” Of all the amusements Astronauts have, they say their favorite thing to do is just stare out the window at their home planet.
So we know that people can live in space for a period of time. We know it keeps getting easier to get there. So a space hotel isn’t exactly science-fiction. Its really just a matter of time.
PS this is a really fun project, and I hope to expand my skills with it. It remains to be seen how exactly this will factor into the portfolio…