The First Luxury Hotel In Space Shows Affordable Space Tourism Is Still A Long Way Off

Even slashing the price in half won't cut it for the rest of us.

4. 6. 18 by Victor Tangermann
Orion Space
Image by Orion Space

Space tourism is no longer a distant dream: multiple companies want to be the first to get tourists off the ground for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. Earlier this week, tech startup Orion Span joined the ranks of Virgin Galactic and Axiom Space by revealing a fully modular space vacation-station called “Aurora Station” for trips to space that can last up to 12 days.

Image Credit: Orion Space

Their timeline is aggressive: the company wants to take the first guests into space in just four years from now. But what does it take to get a room on the Aurora?

First, you’ll first have to dig deep in your pockets — and that’s putting it lightly. Only seven private citizens have made the trip to the ISS over the last 17 years, paying $20 to $40 million each. But Orion Space wants to cut that down by half, charging individuals “only” $9.5 million.

And that’s a hefty sum, limiting the fun of a once-in-a-lifetime space vacation to the rich, the ultra-rich, and the Richard-Branson-rich.

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So what about the rest of us? In a 2016 Telegraph interview, NASA astronaut Don Thomas, who spent 44 days in space, was optimistic. “I would think that, in a decade or so, you will see flights to space for $10,000 to $15,000. Space travel will be more in line with an exotic trip to Antarctica.”

In a similar vein, Elon Musk also mused about the possibility of affordable space travel, except that it was more about building a colony on Mars, rather than spending spring break in a space hotel. He believes a trip to Mars shouldn’t cost more than $200,000 — still a substantial sum that could buy you a house back on Earth.

And then there’s the training. To spend time in outer space as a tourist, you traditionally had to go through a lengthy training regimen for almost two years. Orion Span claims to reduce that to just three months — still a substantial amount of time to take off from work.

Even with the $9.5 million price tag, Orion Span is already collecting deposits (a cool $80,000) for the first guests to spend time at their luxury space hotel.

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“Our goal is to make space accessible to all,” CEO Frank Bunger said in a statement. Unfortunately, those of us who can’t afford to stay on board the Aurora Station will have to wait until it truly is.


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