Last year, we played an April Fools prank on our readers, with a story about a new budget airline that was offering $69 flights to the moon. Turns out, the gag wasn’t so far-fetched.
New start-up Orion Span recently announced its plans to launch the first-ever luxury hotel in space in 2021, with hopes to host its first guests by 2022. Dubbed Aurora Station, the hotel will offer four lucky guests plus two crew members (to start) an out-of-this-world experience. During the 12-day space odyssey, folks will be able to encounter zero gravity, fly 200 miles above the Earth’s surface and gaze upon the blue planet, and witness an average of 16 sunrises and sunsets every 24 hours. Other far-out features include participating in research experiments, such as growing food while in orbit, as well as testing virtual reality technology on the holodeck (yes, that is a Star Trek reference). Travelers will be able to float freely throughout the vehicle, enjoying views of the northern and southern aurora from the station’s windows (talk about a room with a view).
Aurora Station will be about the size of a large private jet’s cabin (43.5 feet long by 14.1 feet wide), according to Space.com. And it will surpass the International Space Station (ISS) in terms of look. “All of the cloth and material will be swapped out on every flight, and guests can stay in with their loved ones back home via high-speed wireless Internet access,” Frank Bunger, CEO of Orion Span, told Forbes.
Even more impressive, Bunger hopes to launch the world’s first condos in space, too. “Our long-term vision is to sell actual space in those new modules,” he said, Space.com reports. “We’re calling that a space condo. So, either for living or subleasing, that’s the future vision here -- to create a long-term, sustainable human habitation in Low Earth Orbit (LEO).”
But Orion Span isn’t the only company who’s taking flight. Axiom Space, a Texas-based company, also aims to launch a commercial space station in orbit in the next few years. Virgin Galactic, founded by Richard Branson, is another private player that’s developing a vehicle to take transport customers to and from space.
Bunger has said that it’s his mission to make space “accessible to all.” Folks will have to undergo a three-month training program, including an online course, training in Houston, Texas, and finally aboard the space hotel itself. Bunger 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,” reports CNN.
So what’s the price to pay for making your childhood dream of becoming an astronaut a reality? A casual $9.5 million for the entire journey, including a $80,000 fully refundable deposit which you can put down today. “The wait list opens April 5, and I’m optimistic it will get filled quickly,” Bunger told Forbes. “There is a lot of excitement around space right now, and it’s just the beginning of this industry.”
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