From August 2021, premier space training company Orbite will be hosting ‘Astronaut Orientation’ training retreats in France and Florida for private citizens who want to leave Earth. Olivia Palamountain reports

Founded in 2019, Orbite offers wannabe astronauts the chance to experience what it’s like to prepare for sub-orbital and orbital space travel via a series of specialised space training programmes taught by leading astronaut trainers.

The company is debuting its signature “Astronaut Orientation” course this autumn with four three-day, four-night adventures designed “to prepare the mind, body and soul to maximise enjoyment and safety for a once-in-a-lifetime space journey”.

Although not aligned directly with space tourism companies such as Virgin Galactic or Blue Origin, both of which are expected to start taking paying members of the public into space this year, Orbite says its programmes will equip people for flying with them – and help prospective customers choose which space tourism experience would be suit them.

There is no obligation to actually go into space, though – Orbite expects that some of its clients may realise that doing the astronaut training might be enough of a thrill in itself, and that leaving Earth is too expensive or nerve-wracking. (Globetrender recently interviewed the co-founders of Orbite, and will be publishing the full interview on its premium newsletter VOLT, soon.)Virgin Galactic Pilots on their way to the Virgin Galactic Spaceflight SystemThe first of various programmes in the pipeline, three of the Astronaut Orientation courses will be located in the US and one will be held in France. Prices begin at US$29,500 per person – not including a seat on an actual spacecraft (considering Virgin Galactic tickets sell for around US$250k, interested parties better have cash reserves to spare – read more here).

Although Orbite will not actually take attendees into space, it will expose them to various sub-orbital and orbital spaceflight experiences via immersive virtual reality, microgravity, high-G flight training, and up-close tours of space facilities.

“The 2020s is the decade of commercial human spaceflight,” says Jason Andrews, co-founder of Orbite, as well as founder of Andrews Space, Spaceflight and BlackSky.

He says: “Orbite will serve the next generation of space explorers: those who come to train, and ultimately stay, before departing on their off-world adventure. Our Astronaut Orientation aims to expand people’s understanding of the near-term spaceflight offerings and help guide them as they consider future spaceflight opportunities.”

Each Astronaut Orientation will be limited to ten participants and (in France) will be led by astronaut trainer Brienna Rommes (pictured above). A veteran in this field with more than 13 years developing instructional space programmes, she has trained more than 600 future astronauts for space, including Richard Branson and his Virgin Galactic passengers.

Courses take place in luxury hotels (the Four Seasons Orlando in Florida and La Co(o)rniche in France), and feature exclusive extras such as a “Michelin star space food lab tasting”.

A typical Astronaut Orientation itinerary includes:

  • Arrival Day: Arrival and welcome reception
  • Day One: Introduction to space vehicles and destinations as well as virtual reality mission experiences
  • Day Two: Microgravity flight and “Michelin star” space food lab tasting event
  • Day Three: High-G flight and graduation ceremony

2021 Astronaut Orientation dates are:

  • August 23-27 – La Co(o)rniche in Pyla-sur-Mer
  • November 11-15 – Four Seasons Resort Orlando
  • November 25-29 – Four Seasons Resort Orlando
  • December 2-6 – Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Nicolas Gaume, co-founder of Orbite and serial entrepreneur, space enthusiast and co-owner of La Co(o)rniche hotel, says: “This out-of-this-world experience will bring space down to Earth in our first Astronaut Orientation.

“The integration of space and luxury hospitality will provide attendees with a one-of-a-kind, immersive experience. We are excited to offer many spaceflight trainings with luxury space experiences now and well into the future.”

In 2024, Orbite plans to open an Astronaut Training and Gateway Complex – the world’s first space campus with luxury accommodation, dining, recreation and spaceflight training.

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