Wed, 17 Nov 1999 18:10:05 -0800

This just in:


LONDON (Reuters) - Imagine an ultra expensive holiday with nothing to do
but stare into space.

Though that prospect may do little to lure you to rush out and book, the
World Tourism Organization predicts it will soon be a popular choice and
that space travel will be commonplace by 2020 low orbit trips may even take
off within three years.

And as companies trip over each other building crafts to whisk adventurous
tourists there first, an international design firm is concentrating on
building a place for them to stay.

Architects Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo (WAT&G), creators of the Legoland
Theme Park in Windsor, southern England, are hoping to solve the outer
space hotel dilemma.

Their space resort, part cruise ship and part theme park, will accommodate
100 people as they orbit the Earth 186 miles up, dining on hydroponically
grown food.

Still in its conceptual stage, the space hotel will be like a spinning
bicycle wheel with spokes that will simulate normal earth gravity in some
parts and have zero gravity in others, allowing for weightless sport and

Howard Wolff, vice president of WAT&G, expects to have the space resort up
and running by 2017.

"A flight up to the resort will be quicker than flying from Hong Kong to
Singapore," he told Reuters.


The only problem I have with any of this is that various commercial
entities have been speculating about or announcing plans or studies for a
space-based hotel since the mid-1970s. Each time, it's always been just 20
or sometimes 30 years away -- close enough to make it interesting, long
enough that it'll be someone else's problem when it doesn't happen.

Gerard K. O'Neill's High Frontier got everyone het up about it in 1976. He
was saying we could have an "Island One" type space colony -- 500-meter
sphere to house 10,000 people -- within 20 years. By that reckoning, we
should've been able to vacation in space or on the Moon for three years now....


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