Tourists will now be able to have a nice vacation 200 miles above the Earth. Orion Span plans to launch a luxury space hotel to orbit Earth in 2021.
Orion Span is a startup company based in Houston which aims to loft its “Aurora Station” in late 2021. The single-module commercial space station will start accommodating guests in 2022.
A 12-day stay aboard ‘Aurora Station’ will start at $9.5 million. The company is already accepting refundable deposits of $80,000 on their website.
“We are launching the first-ever affordable luxury space hotel,” said Orion Span founder and CEO Frank Bunger. He revealed its plans about the Aurora Station Thursday (April 5) at the Space 2.0 Summit in San Jose, California.
Well, Mr. Bunger is using the term “affordable” only in comparison with prices that orbital tourists have paid in the past. Previously, seven private citizens took a total of eight trips to the International Space Station (ISS). They had to pay an estimated $20 million to $40 million each time.
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.
So, before going to the space hotel guests will go through three months of pre-flight training. Also, the company will include an online certification program and in-person training at a facility in Houston.
Employees have designed Aurora to accommodate six people at a time, along with two crew members. Of course, guests will be able to experience zero gravity as the ship orbits our planet every 90 minutes. The craft will measure 34 feet in length and 14 feet wide, making it about the same size as a private jet.
“There’s been innovation around the architecture to make it more modular and more simple to use and have more automation, so we don’t have to have EVAs [extravehicular activities] or spacewalks,” Frank Bunger told Space.com.
Some of the key engineering players of the Orion Span company have also helped design and operate the ISS. So, the company is manufacturing the hotel in Houston and developing the software required to run it in the Bay Area.
Also, if everything goes to plan, the space hotel will expand over time. Thus, as demand grows, Orion Span will launch additional modules to link up with the original core outpost, said Bunger.
Thumbnail image: Aurora Space Hotel. Credit: Orion Span