Physics: Principles and Problems


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For use with Chapter 1
What Is Physics?

The Race to Space – For Vacation
Posted March 5th, 2001

Science Fiction or Fact

In 1968, director Stanley Kubrick and writer Aurthur C. Clarke revolutionized the science fiction world with the production of the epic film 2001: A Space Odyssey. This film explored what the world would be like more than 30 years in the future – at the beginning of the next millennium. Many people have been asking how accurate the predictions of made by Kubrick and Clarke were.

In an early sequence of the film, we see a rocket ship approaching a giant hotel in space – the Orbitor Hilton, complete with a Howard Johnson’s restaurant. Today, while there are no giant hotels orbiting the Earth, it may not be an unrealistic impossibility.

The Space Island Group, led by pioneer Gene Meyers, is intent on making this aspect of science fiction a reality. Meyers makes a point to explain that the cost would be relatively inexpensive. He estimates that once the program is in full swing, a week’s stay in space would be roughly $10,000 a person.

While this may seem like a steep price to some, it is definitely realistic. After all, a week on a cruise ship can cost several thousand dollars itself. Meyers is seeking corporate sponsors from research companies and cruise ships. In fact, he estimates that it may be possible to build and run a space resort for approximately the same cost as it does to build and operate a cruise ship.

Meyers got his start promoting his cause on the late-night Art Bell radio program. Over the years, through vigorous marketing on the Internet, Meyers eventually caught the eye of CNN and other news organizations.

A Room With a View
Meyers plans to realize his dream by using materials that are currently being discarded in space. Much of his proposed space station will be constructed of empty fuel tanks from the space shuttle. The large orange tanks that contain most of the rocket’s propellant are discarded in space after a launch. Meyer plans to assemble 15-20 of these tanks in a wheel formation and covert the empty space of the used tanks to living quarters.

At Meyers’ proposed space resort, the draw would be spending a vacation at 1/3 your Earth weight with a spectacular view unlike any other. Eventually, he wants to start making space as much of a draw as any big city, complete with zero-gravity sporting events.

Activity
Visit the Space Island Group’s web site at http://www.spaceislandgroup.com. How does Gene Meyers plan to design the space station. Develop a design of your own for a resort in space. You may want to build a model of it.

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