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SCIENCE FICTION AND SCIENCE FACT are typically perceived as two competing perspectives: reality and fantasy lie in two separate planes. In actuality, science fact has much to gain from studying science fiction as technological advancement and possibility of the past century allows yesterday’s science fiction to become today’s science fact; the impossible becomes possible.
For millennia, the concept of human spaceflight remained a dream far from reach, merely science fiction. However, on April 12, 1961, fantasy became reality when the first human broke free of the Earth’s atmosphere setting free the imagination of possibility, allowing humans to inhabit the harsh environment of space for the first time. Great advances have been made in spaceflight technology in the fifty eight years which have followed, most notably that of the rapid development of the private spaceflight industry in the last fifteen years. This thesis project will focus on the design of a space hotel for one such privately-owned commercial space enterprise, Virgin Galactic.
Private spaceflight has and will continue to advance the space tourism industry at a much greater rate than a government agency could possibly provide. When the Space shuttle Columbia first launched in 1981, NASA had created the greatest machine the world had ever seen. Interest in space travel was at its peak, but in the twenty eight years to follow that interest has waned as the United States’ antiquated space program has become stagnant, especially when compared to other industries. This is why the need for private spaceflight companies is so great; innovation will be allowed to occur at greater, faster and cheaper levels than government programs such as NASA could ever provide as competition between companies will force them to continue to generate the highest level of achievement. Additionally, reaching beyond our own world will no longer be reserved for highly trainedastronauts as private spaceflight will allow average citizens to participate in space travel, the aforementioned so-called “space tourism” industry, which will spawn renewed interest in spaceflight and in turn help fuel advances in this field.