Decades of sci-fi speculation seems set to come true: in 2022, the world will welcome its first luxury space hotel. Claims like this aren't new, but the Aurora Station is determined to make holidaying in space a reality — for a sky-high price, unsurprisingly.
In development by US-based company Orion Span, the fully modular space station will be capable of hosting six people at a time, including four guests and two crew members. Operating as a luxe place to stay, it'll feature everything a short-term astronaut could want, such as zero gravity, views of the northern and southern aurora, the ability to participate in space research experiments and a virtual reality holodeck. As souvenirs, visitors can even help grow their own food and take it home with them. Plus, because no hotel can get by without it, guests will be able to access high-speed wifi while they soar more than 300 kilometres above the earth and orbit the planet every 90 minutes.
Enjoying all of the above — which means spying an average of 16 sunrises and sunsets every 24 hours — will set eager space cadets back a cool US$9.5 million for a 12-day trip. That price tag hasn't stopped plenty of flush folks putting down a US$80,000 deposit to sign up, with the first four months of reservations selling out within 72 hours of being announced.
That's hefty cost for a company with a stated mission — "to build and sustain human communities in space accessible to all" — but soaring into space isn't cheap, so perhaps the accessible part is more of a long-term quest. The company's founder and CEO, Frank Bunger, says that Aurora Station will bring "travellers into space quicker and at a lower price point than ever seen before." Wannabe astronauts will also undergo a three-month training program, which has been condensed from the usual 24-month timeframe, although surely preparing to go into space isn't something anyone would want to rush.
Future plans for Aurora Station include zero gravity research, space manufacturing — and, if an interstellar vacation doesn't sound futuristic enough, space condos. "Our architecture is such that we can easily add capacity, enabling us to grow with market demand like a city growing skyward on earth," explains Bunger. "We will later sell dedicated modules as the world's first condominiums in space. Future Aurora owners can live in, visit, or sublease their space condo."
For more information, visit the Orion Span website.