In episode three of our series, we learned that the dream of sending civilians into space was nothing new. In the early 1960s, just a few years before we had actually landed men on the moon, the U.S. based Pan American Airlines began “taking names” and was compiling a list of passengers to be among the first civilians to go to the moon.
It was called the First Moon Flight Club. Of course, it was an advertising gimmick but it worked and over 90,000 people signed up.
Before the Pan Am First Flight Club took off, and a few years before that first lunar landing, another business mogul was taking that same concept and expanded on it, but unlike Pan Am, he was serious. The Hilton Hotel chain wanted to build a hotel on the moon.
Meet Baron Hilton (Video)
Lunar Hilton on TV Series, Mad Men (Video)
Lunar Hilton Reservation Form (Image)
Von Braun Space Station Concept
Space Oddities Podcast
Title: Stay Hilton. Go Everywhere…Literally
Air Date: 07/18/2022
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Welcome to “Space Oddities: Forgotten Stories of Mankind’s Exploration of Space”. I’m Joe Cuhaj.
Episode 7: Stay Hilton. Go Everywhere…Literally
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In episode three of our series, we learned that the dream of sending civilians into space was nothing new. While billionaires Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Richard Branson are making it happen today in the 21st century, in the early 60s, just a few years before we had actually landed men on the moon, the U.S. based Pan American Airlines began “taking names” and was compiling a list of passengers to be among the first civilians to go to the moon.
It was called the First Moon Flight Club. Of course, it was an advertising gimmick but it worked and over 90,000 people signed up and received their card that guaranteed they would be one of the first to be offered the chance of a lifetime – a reservation on a flight to the moon when it became feasible.
Before Pan Am’s First Moon Flight Club took off, and a few years before we first landed a man on the moon, another business mogul was taking that same concept and expanded on it, but unlike Pan Am, he was serious.
[Barron Hilton Introduction]
Barron Hilton was born in Dallas, Texas on October 23, 1927. The second of hotel magnate Conrad Hilton’s three sons, Barron began his hotel career as a teenager after the family moved to Los Angeles where he parked cars for guests who were staying at his father’s Town House hotel.
Before he finally emersed himself in the family business, Barron was a Navy photographer during World War II and upon leaving the military, he became an entrepreneur in his own right own founding the McDonald Oil Company, the Carte Blanche Credit Card company, and the American Football League’s Los Angeles Chargers.
In 1966, Barron was asked to succeed his father as the president and CEO of Hilton Hotels. After relinquishing his ownership of the Chargers, he took the reins and over the next 30 years he piloted the company to incredible profits by allowing the Hilton name to be franchised.
Being an avid pilot, Hilton was intrigued with the wonders of spaceflight which gave him an idea – build an Earth orbiting and lunar based hotel.
[Mad Men Lunar Hilton Clip]
That clip from AMC’s hit series, Mad Men, wasn’t far from the truth. Hilton wanted to build a hotel on the moon. It would be called the Lunar Hilton.
Hilton realized that before building a hotel on the moon there had to be a steppingstone, an orbital gateway. Enter the Orbiter Hilton
The Orbiter Hilton was based on a conceptional space research lab design created by the president of Douglas Aircraft, Don Douglas Jr. The orbiter would be 14 stories high and accommodate 24 people.
Later, the company would focus on building the Lunar Hilton, a three story structure that would be built under the lunar surface. The bottom or third level would house the mechanics of the hotel.
The second level would consist of two long hallways that would crisscross each other that could house 100 guests.
The top level would be the location of the main lobby, dining room, and cocktail lounge. As Hilton explained when he introduced the Lunar Hilton concept to the American Astronomical Institute in 1967, “If you think we are not going to have a cocktail lounge, you don’t know Hilton. In the Galaxy Lounge, lunar tourists would be able to enjoy a martini and see the stars.”
Barron Hilton died in 1997 but today, the dream of civilians traveling to space and the possibility of such an orbital hotel doesn’t seem so far-fetched. Several companies, most notably the Gateway Foundation, is attempting to make the vision a reality with their own space station called Voyager. To many people who follow the history of spaceflight, the Voyager design might look familiar. It is based upon decades old theories that were laid out in the early 1960s by famed rocket scientist Werhner Von Braun…
[Von Braun / Space Station Audio Clip]
Gateway’s out-of-this-world hotel would be almost 370,000 square feet in size. The station would accommodate 150 crew members and 1250 guests.
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Plans include a large open-air gym…well, as open as it can be in space, a Japanese garden, food court, and casino.
I’m Joe Cuhaj and thank you for joining me for this episode of Space Oddities. For more information on this fascinating piece of space history, visit our Facebook page – just search on SpaceOddityBook (that’s all one word) and be sure to like us. And visit my website,
joe-cuhaj.com (Cuhaj is spelled C-U-H-A-J) where you can learn more about my other books and upcoming appearances and you can also drop me an email with your questions and comments.
You can read more fascinating, offbeat, and obscure space tales like these in my new book, aptly titled Space Oddities: Forgotten Stories of Mankind’s Exploration of Space, available at your favorite online or hometown bookstore.
Special thanks this week to American Movie Classics (the AMC channel), the University of Houston, and the Walt Disney Company for the clips heard in today’s episode.
Our theme music is called “Inspired” courtesy of BenSounds.Com. We’ll see you next time with more Space Oddities.
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