Design! In! Spaaaaaaaace!

“Our goal is to have a hundred tourists going to space every week!”

Californian architect Tim Alatorre recently spoke with Buderim-based designer Adrian Ramsay on Adrians podcast, Talk Design. But this was no standard gabfest about the ins and outs of constructing a home, office, or a home-office. He is also a partner in Orbital Assembly Corp, and when that’s among the company you keep, not even the sky it seems, is the limit.

Exploring the history of his passion for architecture and design, Tim spoke to Adrian on l how his childhood interest in drawing and maths led him to explore the world of architecture. Working his way through university, he felt he wanted to do more.

“A friend and I started our own drafting service, doing house plans. The first project I ever got was through a friend of mine – her mom wanted to remodel her house,” he says.

“I knew I had a lot to learn, but I knew I could figure it out.”

Qualified and licensed, Tim eventually partnered up with a friend with whom he was in a band. Operating out of a warehouse space, their origins were humble. But there were enough clients to keep the outfit running.

“We went in wanting to give excellent service, and wanting to respond to people’s needs. Really listening, without a preconceived agenda.”

Soon, they were expanding – hiring staff and moving to bigger quarters.

The conversation turned from the many challenges faced when it comes to dealing with clients – especially married couples – to the world of space exploration; not the most obvious transition, but one which provided fascinating content.

“This April will be 60 years since Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the planet,” Tim said. “In those 60 years, less than 600 people have actually been to space.”

Referring to the International Space Station’s standing crew compliment of 6-8 people, Tim spoke of his company’s goal to have 100 tourists go to space every week, and by the end of the decade, “…have a space station that has 400 people living on it, and from there keep building more stations with more people and then soon having tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people living and working in space.”

With many opportunities for manufacturing – including pharmaceutical and nanotech – existing in ‘microgravity’, Tim spoke of how people have medical issues living in space and the effects that they experience. With that in mind, he has been turning his attention to how g-forces can be adaptable and not have humans incur the negative health impacts that some astronauts have experienced.

“What is our gravity prescription?” he asks. “How much gravity do we need to offset all those side-effects?”

With NASA’s approach being to treat issues with medicines and therapies, Tim is looking toward gravity prescription – tourism, resource extraction, space ports and the like – and with the answer being artificial gravity thanks to a rotating structure.

“So, what we’re going to be doing is, we’re going to be rotating the body of this big station, and creating lunar-level gravity on the outer-rim of it. There’s another problem with that, though, which has to do with Coriolis forces. If your feet and head have different gravity levels, you stand up quickly and you’re going to get really dizzy. IN a rotating building, if you turn left or right against the rotation of the structure … the fluids in your inner ear start to move in unpredictable directions causing you to get dizzy and feel nauseous.

“The way you counteract that is by decreasing the delta of those forces between your head and your feet. In order to get that difference smaller, you have to make the station bigger.”

Tim’s space station proposal is 200 metres in diameter, allowing lunar-level gravity by going less than two revolutions per minute. For Tim, it’s just a matter of getting the equipment up there and starting building.

“It’s a no brainer – the time has come.”

Tim’s (terrestrial) work as an architect can be found at

The podcast, which spanned close to an hour, is another in a series of chats the Sunshine Coast designer has had with high profile and acclaimed designers, architects, artists and creators of all trades from multiple places around the world.

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