It seems that space tourism is set to become the next big thing for adventurous types with deep pockets. In addition to Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, companies are promising a future filled with luxury space hotels—but don’t expect to be able to afford a stay unless you’re a millionaire.
At the recent Space 2.0 Summit in San Jose, California, Orion Span—a startup based in Houston—revealed its plans for a luxury space hotel that will orbit 200 miles above the earth. It’s hoped that the modular “Aurora Station” will launch in late 2021, with the first guests arriving a year later.
Aurora will be able to hold six people at a time, along with two crew members. The craft will measure 34 feet in length and 14 feet wide, making it about the same size as a private jet. Lucky guests will be able to experience zero gravity as the ship circles our planet every 90 minutes.
Unsurprisingly, the 12-day excursion into space doesn’t come cheap. Tourists will have to hand over $9.5 million each, which works out at about $791,666 per night.
Orion Span CEO Frank Bunger told Bloomberg that the Aurora is aimed more toward those who want an authentic astronaut experience. “We’re not selling a hey-let’s-go-to-the-beach equivalent in space. We’re selling the experience of being an astronaut. You reckon that there are people who are willing to pay to have that experience,” he said.
Those who want to visit the hotel will first require three months of training, beginning with online courses to understand “basic spaceflight, orbital mechanics, and pressurized environments in space,” and moving on to contingency training in Houston. Orion Span said it has “taken what was historically a 24-month training regimen to prepare travelers to visit a space station and streamlined it to three months, at a fraction of the cost.”
Despite its target audience being wealthy, wannabee astronauts, the company still describes its space hotel as “luxury,” featuring private suites for two and the “most number of windows created for spaceflight.”
The time frame for the Aurora does seem ambitious, but with Orion Span boasting former NASA employees as executives, and with the ever-decreasing costs of space travel, it’s certainly not impossible. If you have a spare $80,000 for a refundable deposit to secure your place, you can do so now on the firm’s website.
Last December, it was reported that Russia also wanted to build a luxury space station. A two-week trip would cost $40 million, and for an extra $20 million, you can stay for up to one month.