That startup, called Orion Span, aims to loft its "Aurora Station" in late 2021 and begin accommodating guests in 2022.
Orion Span founder and CEO Frank Bunger said , "We are launching the first-ever affordable luxury space hotel," who unveiled the Aurora Station idea today (April 5) at the Space 2.0 Summit in San Jose, California.
"Affordable" is a relative term: A 12-day stay aboard Aurora Station will start at $9.5 million. Still, that's quite a bit less than orbital tourists have paid in the past. From 2001 through 2009, seven private citizens took a total of eight trips to the International Space Station (ISS), paying an estimated $20 million to $40 million each time. (These private missions were brokered by the Virginia-based company Space Adventures and employed Russian Soyuz spacecraft and rockets.)
Aurora Station will be about the size of a large private jet's cabin. It'll measure 43.5 feet long by 14.1 feet wide and feature a pressurized volume of 5,650 cubic feet (160 cubic m), Orion Span representatives said.
For comparison, the ISS is 357 feet (109 m) long and has an internal pressurized volume of 32,333 cubic feet (916 cubic m).
The private outpost will orbit at an altitude of 200 miles (320 kilometers) - a bit lower than the ISS, which is about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth on average. Right now, it's unclear how Aurora Station and its future occupants will get to orbit; Orion Span has yet to confirm any deals with launch providers, Bunger said.
Aurora Station will accommodate four paying guests and two crewmembers; these latter personnel will likely be former astronauts, Bunger said. Most of the guests will probably be private space tourists, at least initially, but Orion Span will be available to a variety of customers, including government space agencies, he added.
And the space hotel will get bigger over time, if everything goes according to plan. As demand grows, Orion Span will launch additional modules to link up with the original core outpost, Bunger said.
Orion Span isn't alone in seeking to carve out this path. Several other companies, including Axiom Space and Bigelow Aerospace, also aim to launch commercial space stations to Earth orbit in the next few years to meet anticipated demand from space tourists, national governments, researchers and private industry.
If you've got $80,000 to spare, you can put a (fully refundable) deposit down on an Aurora Station stay beginning today. Folks who fly up will undergo a three-month training program, the last portion of which will occur aboard the space hotel itself, Bunger said.
To learn more, go to www.orionspan.com.