The view…that really was worth every penny they had paid for it, Kelsey thought as she looked out of the small window in her new home. Although, she thought, the pictures really did make it look bigger. Kelsey and Adam had purchased their new vacation home, a re-purposed upper stage from Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket, about six months ago – right before it had launched into orbit in the fall of 2049.
Their home had been maneuvered into a stable low earth orbit, and the renovation teams had worked quickly – all things considered. Their home was positioned with about 75 other boosters forming a sort of three dimensional neighborhood, although this neighborhood was held together by tether cables rather than roads. Glennville was what some were trying to name the neighborhood, and Kelsey figured it was as good a name as any other, although she was sure there would be someone at the association meeting who objected when it came time to vote.
Speaking of that association meeting, Adam was supposed to talk with the current president at his weekly poker match. Kelsey instinctively looked out the window again, but this time looking for movement between the habitats – and sure enough, there was Adam, attached to one of the tethers, being slowly hauled towards the roundabout in the center when he would latch on to their tether, and begin the process of cycling the airlock.
It couldn’t be more than 100 meters between the habitats, but Kelsey knew from frustratingly common experience that the distance she could cover Earthside in a matter of seconds, took upwards of 15 minutes out here. Adam had at least another 9 minutes before making it back, and 6 to cycle the airlock and get his suit off…assuming he hadn’t had too much to drink…just enough time to finish her email to her team back at the company’s HQ on earth. l
The Real Deal
Not quite the science fiction story you would expect for someone writing about the future of space. But that’s the point. The future will be just as mundane as right now is, it will just have a different view.
As of early 2019, the Jeff Bezos’ backed Blue Origin company is exploring keeping the upper booster stages of their New Glenn rockets in orbit instead of de-orbiting them. The thought is that these boosters are basically ready made ‘mobile homes’ given a little retrofitting in orbit.
This solves one of the most significant problems with building orbital habitats now – it costs a lot to haul a structure up to orbit. Moving smaller parts like airlocks, couches, and heaters is much more manageable, and as a bonus, Blue Origin will be selling space on the rockets they launch, so keeping the boosters in space is basically a free way to make some side money for them, and a great way for you to get one of those ‘fixer uppers’ that you keep hearing about on HGTV.
Over the next few posts I’ll talk about growing food in space, the gateway to the moon, and more. If you are one of the millions of people who, like me suffer from inflammation, check out my nutrition blog here.
Until next time — may the light of science guide you.