Extraterrestrial travel has been a dream for decades, ever since the space-race era of the 50s and 60s. But actual space tourism remained exactly that: A dream, just out of reach, too expensive and impractical to come true.
That began to change in the mid-2000s thanks to an ambitious project like Virgin Galactic, which set out to make space tourism a reality. Suddenly, the idea seemed less crazy.
So it really isn’t a shock to read that we could have a luxury space hotel orbiting Earth within three years. According to The Guardian, a new space hotel, called the Aurora Station, can accommodate four travelers and two crew members for 12-day stays, 200 miles above the earth. Guests will complete an estimated three-month training course focused on basic spaceflight, orbital mechanics, and life in pressurized environments in space.
In a release, Orion Span, the company that will operate the hotel, says “Travelers will enjoy the exhilaration of zero gravity and fly freely throughout Aurora Station, gaze at the northern and southern aurora through the many windows, soar over their hometowns, and stay in touch or live stream with their loved ones back home via high-speed wireless Internet access.”
The only catch? That 12-day stay costs $9.5 million, including a (refundable) $80,000 deposit. Obviously, that price point excludes roughly 99 percent of the population, but hey, no one ever said space tourism would be cheap. Orion Span’s founder says the price tag actually is cheap—relatively—and claims his goal “is to make space accessible to all, by continuing to drive greater value at lower cost.”
At the same time, the aforementioned Virgin Galactic appears closer than ever to achieving suborbital travel. The company successfully operated its first powered flight this week, after which founder Richard Branson tweeted that “space feels tantalizingly close now.” Virgin Galactic plans to offer short suborbital flights, during which customers experience several minutes of weightlessness, for a $250,000 pricetag.
Readers, if money were no object, would you travel to space?