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Vacation at a Space Hotel (1982)

The The Kids' Whole Future Catalog really is a treasure trove of 1980's futurism. Today we have a letter from Jenny, writing her friend Susan about the amazing space hotel she's visiting in the year 2002. Having graduated high school in the year 2002, I'm a little disappointed that my graduation ceremony wasn't held at a space hotel, complete with space pool and the accompanying physics that go along with that.

April 16, 2002


Dear Susan,

We arrived at the space hotel yesterday, and the first thing I did was try out the swimming pool. It really is as much fun as everyone says, but the low gravity takes getting used to. Everything happens more slowly than usual - you feel as though you're part of a movie that's being show in slow motion. When you jump off the diving board, you can easily do two or three somersaults before you hit the water - and when you do go in, you leave a hole which takes a few seconds to fill up. The pool doesn't look anything like the ones on Earth. It's like an enormous barrel with water lining the inside. The barrel rotates very slowly, creating just enough force to keep the water pushed up against the sides. When you're in the pool, you can see water curving uphill and people swimming upside down overhead. As if that isn't strange enough, you can also see people floating through the air in the zero-g area at the center of the barrel. To get there, all you have to do is jump high off the diving board and flap your arms like wings. If you hold a paddle in each hand, it's easier to steer. I want to tell you about all the other things I've done, but there isn't time. I'll write again tomorrow.

Love, Jenny

Read more:
Vacations of the Future (1981)
Moon Tourism (1988)
Welcome to Moonbase (1987)
The Kids' Whole Future Catalog (1982)
Factories in Space (1982)
New Worlds to Radically Alter (1981)


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Reader Comments (16)

Geez, it's 2002 and they're still not done building that darn space station from 2001 yet!

November 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAaron T.

'...the zero-g area at the center of the barrel.' It's all zero-g, unless you're hanging onto something.

November 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

No, these are rotating stations. So there is artificial g at the rim, decreasing as you move towards the hub.

As stated in the article.

November 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWutzke

I wonder how long it would take to fill the pool using the "Urine Processing Apparatus" currently being tested in the ISS...

November 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTimeFlies

I wonder how long it would take to fill the pool using the "Urine Processing Apparatus" currently being tested in the ISS...

November 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTimeFlies

And of course, they're sending letters...

November 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTangent 128

Of course they are sending letters. How else would you communicate with good old Earth when everybody knows that interstellar phone calls are much too expensive.

November 25, 2008 | Unregistered Commentergnaddrig


No, there is no 'artificial gravity' on a rotating habitat. If you are standing on / attached to the hab structure, there is a centrifugal force that can substitute for gravity, which is proportional to your distance from the rotational axis. But any object inside the hab that is not attached feels no 'gravity' and will follow a free-fall path until it contacts some part of the structure.

So you can 'fly' along ten feet above the 'floor' just as well as you can along the rotational axis. To an observer on the 'ground,' though, you will seem to be following a spiral path. (And it'll hurt if you hit any struts, etc. along the way.)

November 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

"there is a centrifugal force that can substitute for gravity."

Well, what is "artificial gravity," as opposed to real gravity, supposed to mean? Rodger Cunningham

November 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Thank you Rodger.

As for the original post - do some research. Inter alia, the airmass inside will also take on a rotation, and thereby tend to impart a "downward" force on untethered objects floating in it.

November 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWutzke

Rodger Cunningham: "Well, what is 'artificial gravity,' as opposed to real gravity, supposed to mean?" Real gravity is a distortion of space caused by the presence of a mass. "Gravity" in a rotating hab is centrifugal force.

Wutzke: Good point about the air mass rotating, too, but I don't believe it would be enough to give the effect of a uniform artificial gravity field.

November 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Centrifugal "force" (which is not a force) and gravity are both forms of acceleration. If it keeps your feet on a substrate, why not call it artificial gravity, since that's how we mainly experience gravity? I don't have a problem with physics, but you seem to have a problem with language. RC

November 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Did nobody notice that the illustration at the bottom right was part of, done by Rick Guidice in 1977?

Recycled paleo-futurism always was the best!

November 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTimeFlies

Think what our children can look forward to instead of this:

Not breathing too hard so as to minimize their carbon footprint while playing World of Warcraft 100+ hours a week and watching cable specials on what The Planet will be like after humans are all extinct. What a Shining Bright Future That Will Be!

December 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

The orlando vacation was first class, in terms and location and cleanliness we had no complaints at all. The booking process was simple for us, though unfortunately the strength of the dollar made it a little more expensive. The service was really really good and we had a great time. Lots of sun and fun. We did hire a car so we could go to the restaurants further away, but we used the shuttle to get to Disney. The weather was better than expected and the pool was delightful. We really do recommend Easy Choice and Cane Island. Visit for more information and instant booking.

August 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpeter

Peter, I recommend you stop spamming the Paleo Future blog, and I hope the crocodile from Peter Pan eats you whole.

January 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria

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