Space is just another place where humans are going to live. And because space is almost limitless humans are going to live there in vast numbers in the future - in other words, it will become a whole new habitat.

Today most activities in space are government ones because getting to and from space is so expensive. Once travel to and from orbit is cheap enough, as on Earth, most activities in space will be carried out by individuals, private companies and organizations. At that time space activities will involve almost every industry - not just the aerospace industry but construction and interior design, catering and drinks, fashion and music, sports and entertainment, advertising and law, to name just a few.

Obviously, if people are going to live in space, they are going to need somewhere to live. Hotels are all very well for tourists, but workers will have more practical needs for their permanent accommodation - being close to work for one.

Living in space for long periods of time, or even permanently, is far more serious a prospect than merely staying for a few days or weeks. Much research in space today concerns the effect on the body of living in weightlessness or "zero gravity" for long periods. While this isn't a concern for tourists (we already know that living in zero G for a few weeks has no harmful effects) the long-term effects of low gravity have both benefits and drawbacks to health.

29 July 2012
Added "Space Debris and Its Mitigation" to the archive.
16 July 2012
Space Future has been on something of a hiatus of late. With the concept of Space Tourism steadily increasing in acceptance, and the advances of commercial space, much of our purpose could be said to be achieved. But this industry is still nascent, and there's much to do. this space.
9 December 2010
Updated "What the Growth of a Space Tourism Industry Could Contribute to Employment, Economic Growth, Environmental Protection, Education, Culture and World Peace" to the 2009 revision.
7 December 2008
"What the Growth of a Space Tourism Industry Could Contribute to Employment, Economic Growth, Environmental Protection, Education, Culture and World Peace" is now the top entry on Space Future's Key Documents list.
30 November 2008
Added Lynx to the Vehicle Designs page.
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Introduction - Living in Space

Plenty of books have been written about living in space, but they tend to concentrate on the past experience of people who have stayed in orbit. These people have nearly all been in the unusual situation of doing scientific research. And they have all undergone extensive selection and training, because going to orbit is so expensive today that it would be very wasteful if they were ill or failed to do some of their planned work. And so they've mostly been very busy all the time. So most books don't say much about how it will be for people to live in space for fun, for example in an orbiting hotel.

Some astronauts have complained about being in zero G because it makes their work difficult. Objects like screwdrivers and screws don't stay still but float around. You can't use your body's weight to hold things down - you have to brace yourself against something rigid, and so on. It would be easier to do their experiments on the ground.

Short stays

But most of us will be staying in space for a holiday, not working, and for that zero G is fun. Even the most ordinary activities like eating and drinking, having a bath, moving around your room or along a corridor, undressing and getting into bed (with or without a partner) all become new and entertaining in zero G. Children are sure to love it! And once sports facilities are available, a whole new range of activities will be possible.

Living in space for longer periods like a few months or permanently, is more complex, as you have to take precautions against the long-term effects of zero-G and cosmic rays. Living in space for just a few days as a tourist you won't have to worry about most of this.

The fact is that anyone can live in space for a few weeks without any problems, without any ill effects, and in doing so they will have endless opportunity to enjoy the pleasures of zero G.

Keeping fit

Hotel staff will stay in orbit for longer periods of a couple of months at a time, and they'll have to follow a number of health rules. First they'll have to exercise regularly, particularly their leg muscles, because in zero-G without the usual weight acting on them, leg-bones get thinner. This is done with a variety of equipment, such as "exercise-trousers" which have strong elastic between the ankles and the waist which the leg muscles have to stretch, and which puts pressure on the bones and joints.


Second, hotel staff will be above the atmosphere which filters a lot of the radiation coming in from space. So orbital hotel staff will be like staff at nuclear power stations, research centers which use radioactive materials, astronauts and other professions: they'll receive higher radiation doses than the general population, which will be closely monitored. As in these other professions, the additional risks will be very small, and staff will receive close health monitoring to prevent any problems arising. Like professional "radiation workers" on Earth, they'll generally be people who don't intend to have more children, since reproduction is particularly sensitive to disruption by radiation.

No barrier to working in space

Of course hotels are going to need a lot of staff. It's easy to see: as tourism reaches a rate of hundreds of thousands of guests per year, most of whom will stay in orbit for a few days, the number of guests in orbit simultaneously will reach thousands - presumably divided between a number of hotels run by competing companies. And since a high ratio of hotel staff will be needed to provide top quality service, there are going to be thousands of professional hotel staff who do an occasional tour of duty in orbit. But even given the extra health risks, I don't think there'll be any shortage of applicants for the job! In fact it's likely to be a popular posting! And it will probably be a long time before any other sort of work employs more people in orbit than hotels. Rather different from the usual image of the future of space activities, but business does what makes money!

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