Tourists will soon have a new travel destination as startup Orion Span plans to open a luxury hotel in orbit 200 miles above the Earth in late 2021.The single-module commercial space station will start accommodating guests in 2022. It will include “private suites for two, the most number of windows ever created for spaceflight, weightlessness, and the world's only authentic astronaut experience.”
A 12-day stay aboard ‘Aurora Station’ will start at $9.5 million. Refundable deposits of $80,000 are already being accepted on the website of the company.
Guests will go through three months of pre-flight training, including an online certification program and in-person training at a facility in Houston.
“There's been innovation around the architecture to make it more modular and simpler to use and have more automation, so we don't have to have EVAs [extravehicular activities] or spacewalks,” Orion Span’s CEO, Frank Bunger, told Space.com.
“The goal when we started the company was to create that innovation to make simplicity possible, and by making simplicity possible, we drive a tremendous amount of cost out of it,” he said.
Orion Span is building Aurora Station itself, Bunger explained. The company – some of whose key engineering players have helped design and operate the ISS (International Space Station) – is manufacturing the hotel in Houston and developing the software required to run it in the Bay Area.
Aurora Station will be about the size of a large private jet's cabin. It will measure 43.5ft long by 14.1ft wide (13.3 by 4.3 meters), and feature a pressurized volume of 5,650 cubic ft (160 cubic meters), Orion Span representatives said.
It will accommodate four paying guests and two crewmembers. The personnel will likely be former astronauts, according to Bunger.
The space hotel may be expanded over time if everything goes according to plan. As demand grows, Orion Span will launch additional modules to link up with the original core outpost, said Bunger.
“Our long-term vision is to sell actual space in those new modules,” he said. “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 LEO [low Earth orbit].”