[dropcap size=big]U[/dropcap]S space technology start-up Orion Span has announced it is building the first-ever luxury space hotel for both space tourists and space agencies. The Aurora Station will be the first fully modular space station and will be able to accommodate six people at a time – including two members of crew.

The space hotel will enter orbit, 200 miles above our planet, offering guests the “ultimate astronaut experience” with stunning views of the Earth, Moon and stars, as well as the chance to float around weightless. Cabins are being described as “luxurious” with the option of private suites for two and the most number of windows ever created for spaceflight.

The hotel will orbit Earth every 90 minutes, meaning passengers will see an average of 16 sunrises and sunsets every 24 hours.

Space tourists will also get to partake in activities such as watching the aurora borealis (after which the space hotel is named), growing food in zero gravity conditions (which they can take home with them as a souvenir) and sampling virtual reality entertainment on the “holodeck”. There will even be wifi so they can post pictures to Instagram, and live-stream friends and family.

A 12-day stay on the Aurora Station would cost from US$9.5 million per person (including the flight up there) and fully refundable deposits of US$80,000 are being accepted now. How long do we have to wait? The launch will be late 2021 with the first guests checking in in 2022. You can reserve your place onboard here.

Will you need training? Yes. Orion Span says that prior to take-off, those set to travel on Aurora Station will take part in a three-month Orion Span Astronaut Certification (OSAC). Phase one is done online, while the second portion will be completed in-person at Orion Span’s state-of-the-art training facility in Houston, Texas. The final certification is completed during a traveller’s stay on the Aurora Station space hotel.

Frank Bunger, chief executive officer and founder of Orion Span, says: “We developed Aurora Station to provide a turnkey destination in space. Upon launch, Aurora Station goes into service immediately, bringing travellers into space quicker and at a lower price point than ever seen before, while still providing an unforgettable experience.

“Orion Span has additionally taken what was historically a 24-month training regimen to prepare travelers to visit a space station and streamlined it to three months, at a fraction of the cost. Our goal is to make space accessible to all, by continuing to drive greater value at lower cost.”

He adds: “Aurora Station is incredibly versatile and has multiple uses beyond serving as a hotel. 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. 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.”

Founded by entrepreneur Frank Bunger, Orion Span’s team is made up of aerospace industry veterans with over 140 years of space experience between them. Their ultimate mission is to “build and sustain human communities in space”. The company’s Earth-bound bases are in Houston, Texas, and Silicon Valley, California.

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