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.
More What's New Subscribe Updates by Email

To receive announcements and news of updates by email, subscribe to the sf-announce mailing list.

Join the sf-discuss mailing list to ask questions and talk about space tourism, vehicles, power, and habitats.

More Info Mailing Lists

There are currently 222 documents in the archive.

Bibliography Archives List Library Listing

Low Gravity, Zero G, and Weightlessness
Many people think that weightlessness is a strange and even dangerous condition, but there's nothing particularly weird about it. Anyone can experience it (briefly!) by just jumping into the air, or for up to about a second by jumping off a wall. While you're airborne your body is in weightlessness. Trampolinists and high divers experience weightlessness for up to a few seconds.

Some people say "they feel their stomach jump", and that's quite right. Normally when standing up your stomach is pressing down on the organs below it (your guts), pulled down by gravity. But when you jump in the air, all parts of your body fall at the same speed, so your stomach no longer presses down on the parts below it. It "floats".

If you "stand on your head" your face goes red because blood which is normally trying to fall down into your feet when you're standing upright now tries to fall into your head. Being in zero G is in between the two - more like lying down. The fluids in your body are no longer trying to fall into your feet, and so people's faces tend to swell and become rounder than they are on Earth.

If you stay in zero G for months, your bones start to lose mass and get thinner, since they're not carrying weight. To counteract this you need to do particular exercises. But for a few days or weeks these effects are no problem. Also, in getting used to zero G your head learns to ignore what your inner ear is saying about your balance, so some people have some giddiness on their return to Earth (hence the chairs sometimes used by Russians returning from space; it's not because they're "basket-cases" as some newspapers have liked to suggest! Overall, a short stay in orbit has no ill effects.

Zero-G is Fun - It's Official

If you're just visiting space in order to enjoy living in zero-G as most tourists will be, it's simply fun - as almost everyone testifies. For example:

  • The first US woman to visit space, Sally Ride, said it was "the greatest fun of her life".

  • After the repeated "parabolic flights" on board an aeroplane to produce 20-second periods of zero gravity while filming "Apollo 13", Tom Hanks said he never thought he'd have such fun again. (He will - once space tourism services start!)

  • Shannon Lucid, after returning from spending 6 months on board the Russian space station Mir in 1996, said that if she had the opportunity she'd return to orbit on the next shuttle flight. "You just sort of get used to floating around." And remember - she was working busily in a cramped craft with one small window at the end of a tube - with a cover which was usually closed! Imagine how much more fun it will be when people are staying for pleasure and relaxation in hotel-like surroundings with picture-windows facing Earth!

Scientists prefer to use the word "micro-gravity" to weightlesness or zero G since, strictly speaking, the effect of gravity is only zero along the single line through the center of mass of an orbiting vehicle along its orbital path. Everywhere else in the vehicle there are "gravity gradient" forces tending to move things either "up" or "down" away from the center of mass. But these forces are very small. For you and I floating in an orbiting hotel, the effect of gravity gradients would be barely noticeable even in a room tens of meters across. (What would happen is that objects would drift very slowly "upwards" or "downwards" - away from the center of mass of the hotel.) In Space Future we use the terms zero G and weightlessness which are well-known and understood.

Zero G versus Artificial G
One of the big debates about orbital accommodation is whether more people will prefer zero gravity or partial gravity. Of the people who have spent time in orbit, there are those who prefer zero gravity, and those who think that partial gravity will be more popular. Of course no-one has yet created a partial gravity environment in orbit, because it's more complex to build a rotating station than a static one.

Some people take the view "What's the point of going to orbit - and then making artificial gravity? Just stay on Earth." Others say that partial gravity (for example 1/6 of Earth gravity - like on the Moon's surface) will be interesting compared to Earth gravity, but will be more convenient for living in than zero gravity, of which short periods for sports will be quite enough.

Like so many matters about space tourism, we don't need to predict. We can find out by experience. Companies will build both hotels providing zero G and hotels providing artificial G of different levels, and customers will decide which they prefer - just as they do with resort hotels on Earth. And the competition between different hotels will drive costs down, expand the market, and make it possible for more and more of us to make the trip.

Back to habitat Index
Please send comments, critiques and queries to
All material copyright Space Future Consulting except as noted.