Sophistication In Space


The idea of casually visiting the final frontier is becoming more and more achievable every day, L-J Andrew learns what luxury space travel will look like in the next few years

In the 60s, there was a specific vision of life in space, flying cars, chrome everything and mingling with Martians. Although that ‘Judy Jetson’ view of the future hasn’t yet fully transpired, modern society is peppered with some SiFi tropes; video calls, digital assistants and domestic needs, now being met with a simple tap or a voice command. Maybe we weren’t too far wrong?

Over the last few years, layman space adventures have also become a very real part of the near future. Recent data shows that the space market is growing rapidly, with projections of reaching $1.4 trillion by 2030, but what does taking a 5-star trip among the stars look like?

In pop culture, the private space travel battle is being fronted by two business heavyweights. No matter personal opinions or politics, it has to be said Elon Musk’s Space X and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic are trailblazing the way to space privatisation.

Space X flies under the mantra of being ‘The road to making humanity multi-planetary’. It gained worldwide attention for a series of historic milestones, including in 2020, when SpaceX became the first private company to take humans to the International Space Station.

When talking about the venture, Elon Musk explained: “You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great - and that’s what being a spacefaring civilisation is all about. I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.”

Virgin Galactic’s aim is to pioneer human spaceflight for private individuals, researchers and professional astronauts, with its advanced air and space vehicles. The Company’s proprietary spaceflight system is designed to connect the world to the love, wonder and awe created by space travel and to offer a transformative experience.

Virgin Galactic’s entire offering — from the distinctive flight system to a week-long astronaut experience aboard a purpose-built Spaceport — has been designed to enrich and enhance the life-changing experience of space.

While these heavyweights of industry are thrusting the idea of space travel into the public domain and making the first tentative steps into a privatised final frontier, other more specialised brands are cultivating the art of turning the dark abyss into a luxury destination of it’s own.

In a groundbreaking leap towards the future of space leisure, in the pipeline from California-based Orbital Assembly Corporation, is Voyager Station - the world’s first space hotel in low Earth orbit.

Voyager Station, envisioned as a colossal circular structure with an astonishing diameter of 488 metres, promises to redefine the concept of space tourism. Beyond its awe-inspiring aesthetic, the space hotel will house all the amenities earthbound travellers have come to expect with plans including restaurants, cinema, spa, library, concert hall, bars and even a sports hall, all accommodating 450 guests alongside a dedicated crew of 150 members.

What sets Voyager Station apart from any other celestial abode, is its innovative approach to creating artificial gravity. The 24 living modules, each measuring 20 metres in length and 12 metres in width, will revolve around a central axis, simulating a gravitational force akin to that on the Moon.

Further to just the Voyager Station, the pioneering space development company, aims to make space accessible by building future gravity-simulating space stations specifically for leisure, commercial and industrial activities. With a world-class management team and a strong focus on innovation and mission success, Orbital Assembly is at the forefront of enabling humanity to live, work and thrive in space.

Although spending a week nearer to the sun may now be just around the corner, for those looking at testing the waters of extraterrestrial experiences, 2024 is the year.

Zephalto, the global leader in luxury consumer space travel will be the first European-based consumer flight taking place at the end of 2024, taking travellers to where the sunrise can be seen past the stratosphere.

Breaking boundaries, Zephalto offers life-changing journeys, 25 km from the Earth inside Céleste, the pressurised capsule lifted by a stratospheric balloon. The flight departs from France and takes six hours in total, spending three hours at its highest altitude.

Zephalto’s vision is to offer the chance to view the earth from a new perspective and witness its spherical curve (the “Overview Effect”), in the darkness of space but in the comfort of quality hospitality.

Designed by Joseph Dirand Architecture, the smallest experience-led ‘hotel’ ’in the world will have the most powerful story to tell. Guests aboard Céleste will witness a breathtaking panorama of the Earth, the Sun and the stars only ever appreciated before by astronauts. Beyond all light pollution, they’ll witness the ever-evolving and infinite landscape of space by means of low carbon and ecological technology - unlike the potent greenhouse gases created by rockets.

“Architecture has a function”, notes Designer Joseph Dirand, “and this, paired with my profound passion for hospitality, has provoked an inspiration for this innovative and groundbreaking project. Design is about shaping experiences and this experience will shape people’s lives. I’m thrilled to be working on this project and hope that guests return to Earth with new perspectives towards our precious planet, its beauty, and how to protect it better.”

However, it’s not just the views on offer. Each traveller also receives a tailor-made experience, including Michelin-starred cuisine upon request, all designed and cooked by prominent French chefs. The gourmet experience is paired with an oenological tasting. A selection of wines carefully chosen by renowned sommeliers who host a guided tasting, helping guests discover the best domains in France; from regions to grape varieties, guests discover France at its best from land to sky.

Vincent Farret d’Astiès, Zephalto Founder and Test Pilot comments: “I am thrilled to have built the bridge between my dream of space travel and reality. Those who share my desire to travel in harmony with the elements, can finally do so onboard Céleste. Our expert team has been working hard to create a vessel that the Montgolfier brothers would have been proud of. After years of working on the approach, design and technical solutions, the concept is now palpable and offers an extraordinarily immersive experience that’ll stage our Earth and Space to the most affluent of travellers.”

With constant innovations like these ever pushing the boundaries, one has to ask, how long will it really be until we will be lying by a pool, relaxing with a cocktail after a massage, taking in the Martian landscape or retiring to a stunningly designed hotel room after a 5-star meal with the moons of Jupiter overhead.

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