What if you could book a hotel stay on the Moon? And no, I don’t mean The Moon Hotel in Brussels. I mean that great big rock orbiting the Earth. NASA is already planning return trips to the Moon, with the eventual possibility of a manned mission to Mars. A moonbase would be the first logical step to take in sending humans to the Red Planet. It would mean vital testing could be done on the hardships of extra-terrestrial habitation and would allow any problems to be overcome relatively easily given the close proximity to Earth.
In the future given that manned missions to Mars are a success I’m left asking what would happen to a Moon base and would it ever open up for civilians? Given the extreme cost of space travel it makes sense to try and recoup some money by allowing people to stay in a ‘Moon hotel’. Don’t forget that the commercialisation of space travel is well underway with Virgin Galactic leading the way. In my mind at least, it’s entirely plausible that one day ‘space tourists’ will be able to stay for a few days on the lunar surface. The question remains though, what would it be like and how different would it be to any other hotel on Earth? I thought I’d have a look at some airport hotels and see how a ‘moonport’ hotel would differ.
An airport hotel is typically there for travellers to ensure that they’ve had a good night’s sleep before they travel and that they don’t get stuck in traffic and miss their flight. They do a great job of this and I’m sure most people much prefer flying on a full breakfast and full quota of sleep. Of course, on the Moon traffic isn’t really a concern and neither is missing your flight. Well, that is your flight is unlikely to take off without you. I know I’d rather miss a flight at Heathrow than one off the Moon. Anyway. The purpose of a Moon hotel stay would be to experience the flight, marvel at the view and spend some time in microgravity (the Moon’s gravity is around one sixth that of Earth).
The view would be quite different, I think a Moon hotel has the advantage over an airport hotel in this regard. From an airport hotel you can see a small amount out of the window, maybe a bit of the runway if you’re lucky.
However from the Moon you can see the entire planet.
Where an airport hotel trounces any future Moon bases is facilities. Moon bases will have extremely difficult engineering obstacles to overcome in order to really work. Power, light, temperature, gravity, pressure, it’s all different on the Moon. A Lunar day lasts for about 15 Earth days and so bases will ideally be built around the poles where there is continual sunlight. Due to the lack of atmosphere the outside temperature on the Moon varies from way above the boiling point of water down to -153˚C. Far too extreme to enjoy a drink outside for sure. Minimal gravity on the Moon would have an adverse effect on bone and muscle strength as well as causing problems for the immune system. Hopefully problems you can avoid with an Earthly airport hotel.
So on the Moon you can’t go outside unless you’re in a spacesuit, the food won’t be as good and if you stay too long you may end up with health problems. In contrast at an airport hotel the food is often great, you can go outside in whatever clothing you want, it doesn’t cost millions of dollars to get there. Along with that you get a nice large space to walk around in, you can go swimming and you can take the kids.
However, even having said that I know where I’d like to stay one day…