Imagine waking up on vacation in zero gravity. You float over to the window and look out on your view of the Earth just as the Sun peeks over the horizon. It’s almost impossible to pull yourself away from the breathtaking view but the knock on your door must be answered. Room service has arrived with your breakfast and it’s time to make the most of your vacation in this orbiting space hotel. With the advances made in recent years by commercial spaceflight companies, this future may be closer to reality than you think.
Emergence of Commercial Spaceflight
Virgin Galactic, the American-based and British-owned commercial spaceflight company, in partnership with other privately funded companies have made major advances towards commercial space exploration in recent years…and they are not the only ones. Many private sector ventures have sprung up in the shadow of the US government funded manned space shuttle program. These companies are spearheading the future of space travel and galactic exploration but there are some basic necessities that must not be overlooked.
Applying Lessons Learned on Earth
While many of the needs of a hotel orbiting in space are undoubtedly going to be different than a hotel on Earth, one thing must be planned for no matter the location–waste management. Every inhabited building, hotel, home, space station, etc must properly plan for the sanitary handling and disposal waste. Types of waste to consider might be both human and material in nature. Taking our imagined space hotel as an example, there would be the expected human and food waste but what about when the time comes to remodel? What is the plan for disposing of the old lighting, furniture, building materials, etc? Are they simply ejected into orbit to join the over 23,000 existing pieces of space junk already cluttering the heavens? Can the waste be incinerated or recycled on location? Is it collected and transported back to Earth for proper disposal?
No matter the answers, now is the time to ask the questions. Developing space waste solutions for the emerging space tourism industry will make your Earth orbiting hotel stay much more enjoyable in the future.
(Photo Credit: NASA)