Renderings courtesy of Orbital Assembly
Space tourism is quickly becoming a reality for the average person—no longer will the experience be reserved just for science fiction movies or trained astronauts. Orbital Assembly Corporation recently announced that its Pioneer class station, the first free-flying, habitable, privately-operated facility in orbit, is scheduled to be operational in 2025.
“We’ve been able to develop a safe, secure, and reliable modular station that will generate revenue and profitability from both the tourist and commercial sectors sooner than our competitors who are adhering to NASA timetables,” Rhonda Stevenson, chief executive officer of Orbital Assembly, says.
“Multiple revenue streams from commercial, research and tourism markets will enable us to subsidize the travel market for a one to two-week stay. While launch costs continue to be a barrier, we expect tourists will be motivated to plan shorter, or more frequent, stays as space travel becomes less expensive,” she added.
The Pioneer-class space station is the world’s first hybrid space station for both work and travel, and can accommodate 28 guests. The Voyager Station, announced by Orbital Assembly in 2021, will accommodate up to 400 people.
Each Pioneer station will offer up to 14,000 cu. ft. of space in a hybrid environment of microgravity (Zero-G) and variable levels of gravity up to .57-G. Artificial gravity will be used within Pioneer to enhance the level of comfort of being in space.
“For the average person, being in space will be a sci-fi dream experience,” Tim Alatorre, Chief Operating Officer for Orbital Assembly, says. “Our vision is to make space a destination people will yearn to visit, with familiar elements provided by the presence of gravity.”
“We envision our Pioneer and Voyager space stations as the ultimate ecotourism destinations,” Alatorre says. “Once people get to space, it will change their perspective about Earth. Space travel is still in its infancy, and we’re excited to do our part to push it forward to help improve life on earth.“
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The gravity experience on the Pioneer space station will enable visitors to do things that are not possible in current space stations—like moving around in weightless environments while eating, drinking out of a cup normally and sleeping without being attached to a bed.
Orbital Assembly is partnering with UC Irvine and former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison’s organization, 100-year Starship, to study the effects of artificial gravity on human physiology. Researchers have found that the Zero-G conditions experienced during long-term stays in space may cause serious medical conditions.