Tired of all those Earth vacations and their boring palm trees, beaches and gravity?
US space technology startup Orion Span has unveiled Aurora Station, a luxury space hotel it says will be hosting tourists in low-Earth orbit by 2022.
"Our goal is to make space accessible to all by continuing to drive greater value at lower cost," says Frank Bunger, Orion Span CEO and founder.
Don't get too excited by the "lower cost" bit, though, budget travelers. Bunger's talking $9.5 million dollars for a 12-day "astronaut in training" experience 200 miles (322 kilometers) above Earth. In all fairness though, that does include launch to the hotel -- and towel service. And it's millions less than other tourist jaunts into space. A trip aboard one of the rockets to the ISS.
Construction on the Aurora Station will begin next year in Houston, Bunger says, though not at NASA, because this is a private venture. The hotel will basically be a cylinder that fits inside a rocket and can accommodate four guests at a time, plus two crew members who also happen to be former astronauts. At least one will have space-medicine know-how, Bungee tells me, should a passenger get a case of Zero-G germs.
The Aurora Station will complete an orbit every 90 minutes, meaning guests will see day and night over Earth hundreds of times. When they're not posting Instagram shots via high-speed wireless internet, they can also enjoy a VR experience on the holodeck or just float around in their suites.
"The aesthetic we're going for is spaciousness," Bunger says. "Any time you're in any sort of spacecraft, there's a natural tendency for it to become cluttered with systems or controls. We're going for a really clean, modern look. Ikea-ish, but much higher end."
Orion Span -- whose leadership team includes a human spaceflight engineer, a space architect and a former vice president and general manager for the ARES Corporation -- announced Aurora Station at the Space 2.0 Summit in San Jose, California, on Thursday. The same day, Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic space plane geared for tourists completed a successful test flight, three and a half years after the fatal crash of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo.
Aurora Station tourists will arrive at the hotel via rocket, though it's not yet clear whether it will be one belonging to Elon Musk.
"We're in the early stages of talking to SpaceX and Blue Origin and others and determining who would be the best partner," Bunger says.
But while space tourism may become more common in our lifetimes, a trip to the floating luxury hotel will require more prep than most vacations. Visitors must complete a mandatory three-month training, much of it online, to learn the basics of spaceflight, orbital mechanics and pressurized environments. Then they'll board Aurora for an experience that's like , but many, many pennies pricier.
Those eager for an Aurora Station vacation can make a fully refundable $80,000 deposit online now (Bunger says the startup has already gotten more reservations than expected, but he won't share numbers yet). Be warned however. If you're already envisioning a romantic getaway with your, sex in space can get very complicated.
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