Who hasn't dreamed of taking a trip into space? I know I have.
But while manned spaceflight became commonplace beginning in the 1960s, it's hard to believe that NASA hasn't launched astronauts into space since the final shuttle mission (Atlantis, STS-135) way back in 2011.
Of course, in the absence of NASA launches, private businesses are stepping up to the challenge -- making their own plans to send people into space, and perhaps one day the planet Mars. Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, Elon Musk's SpaceX, Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin, and a host of others are all making tremendous strides in this direction.
But, once those men and women get all the way up there, what if they want to stick around?
Last week, a company called Orion Span revealed at the Space 2.0 summit in San Jose, California that it is developing what it calls "the first luxury hotel in space" -- Aurora Station. According to the company, Aurora Station is a modular space station that will host its first guests in 2022 -- just four years from now.
But there's a slight catch: a standard 12-day stay at Aurora Station will set you back a cool $9.5 million, or $792,000 a night. The company will gladly take your (fully refundable) deposit for $80,000 right now to hold your reservation for a future stay.
Says Orion Span about the journey into space:
"During their stay on Aurora Station, 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, take part in research experiments such as growing food while in orbit (which they can take home with them as the ultimate souvenir), revel in a virtual reality experience on the holodeck, and stay in touch or live stream with their loved ones back home via high-speed wireless Internet access. While in space, Aurora Station guests will soar 200 miles above the Earth's surface in Low Earth Orbit, or LEO, where they will find stunning views of the Earth. The hotel will orbit Earth every 90 minutes, meaning those aboard will see an average of 16 sunrises and sunsets every 24 hours. On return to Earth, guests will be treated to a hero's welcome home."
There's just one more catch. If you want to stay in Aurora Station, you'll have to first participate in a three-month Orion Span Astronaut Certification program in Houston, Texas.
I don't know about you, but if I had $9.5 million burning a hole in my pocket, I would probably sink it into a nice property on the beach in Hawaii and not on a 12-day stay on a space station. While affordable space travel is something I'll probably miss out on, here's hoping my kids -- or their kids -- get the opportunity to jump on board.