Planned Space Hotel Gets Closer To Becoming A Reality

Houston-based Orion Span is attempting to develop the “first luxury hotel in space”. The company’s planned Aurora Station is being designed to appeal to those who are passionate about space and astronomical study. Company officials said, “Our goal is to make space accessible to all, by continuing to drive greater value at lower cost.”

The planned hotel will accommodate up to four travelers and two crew members at a time. The hotel will fly at a height of 200 miles above the Earth’s surface in Low Earth Orbit, or LEP, and orbit Earth every 90 minutes. Guests will see around 16 sunrises and sunsets every 24 hours and have views of the northern and southern aurora from the station’s windows.

Orion Span’s proposed hotel will offer zero gravity flying throughout the station. During their stay, travelers will be able to take part in research experiments such as growing food while in orbit. Travelers will be able to communicate with friends and family at home through live-streams using high-speed Internet.

Orion Span’s founder and chief executive, Frank Bunger said, “We’re selling the experience of being an astronaut.” The cost for the 12 day trip will be $9.5 million per person, or roughly $791,666 a night, with an $80,000 deposit. Deposits are already being accepted for future stays on the space hotel. The company says that the deposit is fully refundable.

The cost also includes the three months of training Aurora Station visitors will have to undergo before their trip. The training would begin with online courses on “basic spaceflight, orbital mechanics, and pressurized environments in space,” according to company officials. Contingency training at the company’s headquarters in Houston would also be mandatory before the space flight.

The company wants the hotel to be up and running by late 2021. Construction of one Aurora Station “module” will begin in 2019. Additional modules could be attached later. The first guests would be brought on board in 2022. Bunger said, “Upon launch, Aurora Station goes into service immediately, bringing travelers into space quickly and at a lower price point than ever seen before.”

The successful launch of Elon Musk’s Falcon Heavy from the Kennedy Space Center in February increased the likelihood that private enterprises could return humans to space. Private enterprise and international partners could work closely with NASA to fulfill the goal.

Bunger said, “Almost every week there’s another rocket launch company that’s starting up with a new way to get to orbit cheaper, faster, better.” The declining price of launches allows Orion Span to aim for a price of less than $10 million per person for its trips.