But a spinning table is hardly a giant wheel in space. Fortunately, for anyone harbouring dreams of that elegant ship in 2001: A Space Odyssey, all is not lost. Baker believes there may be another way to build the first artificial gravity spacecraft. “A hotel in space would definitely need artificial gravity,” he says. “Given that 50% of people get space sickness, if we have hotels in Earth orbit then artificial gravity would be essential.”
With the explosion in commercial space travel, this idea may not be as farfetched as it seemed even a decade ago. Indeed, the firm that is supplying Nasa with its first inflatable space station module is owned by hotel magnate Robert Bigelow, who has talked about his desire to extend his real estate empire into orbit.
So, perhaps one day, we could end up with giant inflatable, wheel-shaped space stations – albeit for millionaire space tourists rather than Martian explorers.