A Luxury Hotel Is Opening in Space for Wannabe Astronauts

Courtesy of Orion Span
Courtesy of Orion Span

There’s nothing like a faraway vacation to help you truly unplug from the day-to-day slog. It’s even better if you can trek to a place you’ve never visited before. Have you ever considered… space? 

Well, for those who’ve been dreaming of playing astronaut for a few days, you’ll soon have the chance thanks to a new luxury hotel that is quite literally launching 200 miles above the Earth. Meet Aurora Station.

Courtesy of Orion Span

Taking a cue from the spate of space tourism projects underway at places like SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic, Aurora Station is an ambitious project designed to let wannabe amateur astronauts kick it above our pale blue dot for 12 days at a time, experiencing the comforts of luxury hotel life in zero gravity, while living in a tricked-out capsule flying in low Earth orbit. The hotel, which is on a wildly ambitious track to welcome its first guests by 2022, will essentially be a mini space station comprised of modular capsule with enough room inside to accommodate four guests and two crew members at a time. 

Besides staring in awe out the many windows as the craft orbits Earth every 90 minutes or so, travelers will be able to participate in research experiments (e.g., growing food), take part in some virtual reality experiences on an actual holodeck, and live-stream with folks back home. 

Courtesy of Orion Span

As you’d probably expect, a week-plus sojourn to space does not come cheaply. The company behind the project, Orion Span, has set the price of a 12-day voyage at around $9.5 million per person, translating to a cost of $791,667 per night. Eat your heart out, Hotel President Wilson.

For those with the funds to swing a space vacation, Orion Span is currently accepting fully refundable deposits of $80,000 to secure a reservation. Though it’s also worth noting that guests who successfully book a stay won’t just show up to the launch site and casually hitch a ride. All guests will undergo an intensive three-month astronaut certification program ahead of time to prep for the experience and train for launch, re-entry, and contingency scenarios. Guests will also be required to do exercise during their stay aboard Aurora.

Courtesy of Orion Span

Naturally, many are reasonably skeptical that Aurora Station will ever be fully realized, let alone by its prospective 2022 launch date. Still, two of Orion Span’s executives are former NASA employees, and the company argues that its business plan will allow it to keep the costs relatively low.

“We will offer full charters to space agencies who are looking to achieve human spaceflight in orbit for a fraction of the cost -- and only pay for what they use,” Orion CEO Frank Bunger said in a press release. “We will support zero gravity research, as well as in space manufacturing. Our architecture is such that we can easily add capacity, enabling us to grow with market demand like a city growing skyward on Earth. 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. This is an exciting frontier and Orion Span is proud to pave the way.” 

However, as Bloomberg points out, Orion doesn’t have any official launch partner yet for initial flights or ones that’ll shuttle guests, and the 2022 launch date may actually just be a ploy to gauge interest from potential travelers actually willing to pony up the kind of money needed to get the operation literally off the ground. 

In any case, it couldn’t hurt to start saving now if you’re in the mood for a truly one-of-a-kind way to spend your PTO. 

h/tBloomberg

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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow him @jwmcgauley.