When a new luxury hotel opens, there might be some “oohs” and “ahhhs” around details like the roof deck infinity pool or bath butler. A few months later, the excitement dies. But there was one high-end hotel announcement made today that is sure to keep people buzzing.
Yes, it has things you’d expect from accommodations like the Four Seasons: comfortable bedding, incredible views, onsite excursions, and a garden. So, what makes it unique? Well, the property is located in space.
Developed by the Orion Span company, Aurora Station was introduced today marking the debut of the first fully modular space station and luxury space hotel. Six people can stay at a time, including two crew members, for a 12-day journey where they will live like real astronauts.
“Guests will be orbiting in the hotel at 200 miles above the surface experiencing zero gravity the entire time,” Frank Bunger, CEO of Orion Span, told me. “We are also going to be doing real space research up there like growing food in space, which we will let our guests take home as a souvenir. Then we will have a virtual reality experience, what we call the holodeck, named after Star Trek. Lastly, when the guests return home to Earth, we’re going to treat them to a hero’s welcome.”
Regarding the accommodations, Bunger said they would far exceed those on the International Space Station (ISS). “Ours, by contrast, is going to be very clean, pristine look,” he revealed. “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.”
The wild concept was created by a group of space industry veterans who are on a mission to bring travelers into space quicker and at a lower price point than ever seen before. “Historically space tourists that traveled to the ISS spent about two years training,” said Bunger. “We streamlined that process to three months making it more affordable and accessible.”
While the details of the training process are still being hammered out, Bunger said it would take place in three phases. First, you will take a month-long online course, followed by a four to six-week training in Houston, Texas, and the last phase will take place on board the Aurora Station. Upon completion, guests will get a certification that can be used for future trips as or other possible space adventures as well.
“We are hoping to use that certification around the space industry,” noted Bunger.
So, what’s the cost to live like an astronaut for a couple of weeks? A whopping $9.5 million per person. “That might seem like a lot,” admitted Bunger. “But, the folks that went up to the ISS paid anywhere from $20 to $40 million, and one of our competitors, Bigelow Space Operations, will likely to be in the eight digits, meaning tens of millions.”
For those who have $10 million burning a hole in their pocket, fully refundable $80,000 deposits are now being accepted for a future stay on Aurora Station, which is slated to launch in late 2021 and host its first guests in 2022.
“The wait list opens April 5, and I’m optimistic it will get filled quickly,” said Bunger. “There is a lot of excitement around space right now, and it’s just the beginning of this industry.”
Although the space hotel is first on Orion Span’s to-do list, they’re already started looking ahead to other projects like opening the world’s first condominiums in space. “We figure it’s like the early days of the commercial aviation business where it seemed like a crazy wild idea,” said Bunger. “But after a year or two of it being done, it becomes routine. Our goal is to make space travel even more affordable over time.”