During the Space 2.0 Summit held in San Jose, California on April 5, Orion Span, a startup company, unveiled their ambitious plans of launching “Aurora Station,” dubbed as an affordable luxury hotel in space.
As reported by Space, the company’s timeline is to loft their space hotel by 2021 and open its doors to guests by 2022. If the company succeeds, tourists will have a literally out of this world destination in four years time.
The term affordable is used loosely in this case as the average cost of staying in the hotel for 12 days is roughly $9.5 million. Compared to what private citizens have been paying to visit the International Space Station, this amount offers more than a 50 percent discount.
Between 2001 and 2009, seven citizens were able to visit the ISS by paying between $20 to $40 million. Russia Soyuz employed the Virginia-based Space Adventures as a broker for these trips.
Frank Bunger, the company’s founder and CEO, explained that the space hotel would be simpler and more modular while at the same time more automated so spacewalks or extravehicular activities will no longer be necessary.
“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.”
Orion Span will also be in charge of building the space hotel, and the company will hire some of the engineers who had a hand in operating and designing the ISS. Construction will proceed in Houston while the company will develop the accompanying software to run the system in the Bay Area.
Aurora Station will be 43.5 feet by 14.1 feet with a 5,650 cubic feet pressurized volume according to representatives from Orion Space. The hotel is much smaller than the ISS which is 357 feet long with an internal pressure volume of 32,333 cubic feet. Guests will have to undergo three-month training before the flight.
The luxury hotel will orbit the Earth at an altitude of 200 miles, just 50 miles lower than the ISS. Bunger did not announce their launch partners yet. The hotel can accommodate two crew members and four passengers for each flight. The company’s vision, according to Bunger, is to expand the operations over time.
“Our long-term vision is to sell actual space in those new modules. 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].”
Orion Span is not alone in its pursuit as Bigelow Aerospace, and Axiom Space has the same plans. Meanwhile, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are in the process of developing vehicles to accommodate paying customers. Then there’s SpaceX, which visualizes a new world in Mars.
As for Orion Span, the company is already starting to accept deposits for those who want to be the first guests in their affordable luxury space hotel.