06.02.2019 change 06.02.2019

A large space hotel in orbit around the Earth could realistically operate from 2025-2030

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

The years 2025-2030 is a real perspective, in which we could expect the first large, functioning space hotel in orbit around the Earth, says the President of the Polish Space Agency Dr. Grzegorz Brona. It is connected to the commercial use of the International Space Station (ISS).

"The United States has a strategy related to the conquest of outer space, developed for a several decades perspective. According to that strategy, the use of the International Space Station that orbits Earth will end around 2025. After that, the station will find another application, for example it could become a space hotel for tourists" - says the head of POLSA.

Brona emphasises that the Americans are also thinking about the next step into space. "Among the various possibilities, they have chosen to go towards the Silver Globe and build a station, this time not in the Earth`s orbit, but in the orbit of the Moon" - he says. The idea is that it will be a station where people will live, and thanks to which they will be able to transfer to a Moon lander and conquer the Moon - or maybe fly further into space.

"It is possible that a Martian ship will dock at this station, a ship that will fly to Mars and transport people to the Red Planet. Either way, it is part of a large U.S. program that begins with the use of the space station, continues with building a station in the Moon`s orbit, and ends with landing on the Moon and sending the first human crews to the Red Planet" - says Brona.

According to the President of POLSA, the United States is looking for partners for this undertaking. "All large space projects now require cooperation between different countries" - he says. He adds that this involves not only sharing the costs of such great space projects, but also creating a team capable of realizing them.

"A space station, for example the ISS that currently orbits the Earth, required the cooperation of several dozen countries and their scientists and engineers who designed it, built it and delivered it to orbit. The situation will be similar with the Lunar Gateway or Deep Space Gateway in the Moon`s orbit" - he believes. It will require not only financial cooperation of many countries, but also cooperation related to know-how, transfer of both scientific and engineering knowledge.

"Poland can participate in this large project, hence my meetings with representatives of NASA, to show that our country is seriously interested in such a large and ambitious project for the benefit of all mankind. For that reason, in December 2018, the Polish Space Agency joined the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG)" - he says. POLSA was the 17th national agency to joined this group.

"We are serious about space exploration and we are already perceived as one of the dozen or so countries that are very interested in this area" - he emphasises.

According to Brona, Poland`s participation in such a station would probably be small. "It would concern areas, in which Polish entities, Polish scientists and Polish companies have the greatest know-how, for example space robotics, construction of space landers or exploration of the surface of the Moon that will require robotic systems, in which our companies, our scientists are experts" - he notes.

He adds that precision electronics is another domain of Polish scientists. "Our electronics flew to the Moon with the Chinese Chang`e 4 probe. We have a number of technologies in which we are recognized all over the world" - he says. He mentions the Polish system for studying the Moon`s soil, which will probably become part of the Lunar Gateway program.

"I am talking about the landers that will launch from the Lunar Gateway to study the lunar soil. We are also the leaders in this area, we are probably best prepared in the world to conquer the surface of the Moon when it comes to lunar probes or ground samplers" - he says.

According to the President of POLSA, the Lunar Gateway station is another step in space exploration. "The ISS is a very large station, more than six astronauts may stay on it at the same time. In the case of the Lunar Gateway it will be two or three people" - he explains. The Lunar Gateway is expected to be a transfer station for further Moon or Mars missions.

"During that time, the International Space Station should continue to be used, probably by the space industry. One of its branches is space tourism, which seems to be one of the ways to exploit the capabilities of the International Space Station in the future" - Brona says.

He reminds that work is already under way on the preparation of additional modules for the International Space Station. "On of the companies involved in this is Bigelow Aerospace, the owner of which also owns a network of hotels on Earth; the company is currently working on inflatable modules that in the future could be connected to the ISS and become rooms for future space tourists" - he explains.

According to Brona, "2025-2030 is a realistic perspective to see the first large, functioning space hotel in orbit around the Earth".

PAP - Science in Poland, Magdalena Jarco

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