A new startup, Orion Span, has plans to launch a “space hotel” and provide trips into low-earth orbit in 2022. You’ll get 12 days in space along with a Holodeck-like VR in Space experience.
If we could do it, we settle for a nice window seat. VR would be the last thing on our minds and surely isn’t needed as a selling point.
VR in Space details
According to CEO Frank Bunger, the company is already building the Aurora Station, “the first-ever affordable luxury space hotel.” Affordable here means less than half of what private citizens have paid to get to the International Space Station (ISS). It will orbit at a lower altitude than the ISS, 200 miles (320 kilometers) instead of 250 miles (400 km).
Space.com notes that
The company — some of whose key engineering players have helped design and operate the ISS — is manufacturing the hotel in Houston and developing the software required to run it in the Bay Area.
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 (13.3 by 4.3 meters) 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).
You won’t get a spacewalk or difficult astronaut activities, but you’ll get to experience zero-gravity, gaze at the earth, see lots of sunsets and grow some food.
And you get the Holodeck VR in Space experience – though why anyone needs virtual reality while in low-earth orbit is earth is beyond us. Down here, VR makes sense. And there’s lots of excellent VR experiences from the BBC’s VR Spacewalk to Eliza McNitt’s SPHERES: Songs of Spacetime that give you a rudimentary sense of what it’s like up there.
Unless we were stuck in Space for months, we’d leave the VR headsets at home.
Getting on board
There’s no guarantee the project even gets off the ground as they have yet to sign a launch partner. But it’s a sign of what’s to come as the technology becomes cheaper and space flight more common. And just in case you were wondering, they do have longterm plans for Space-condos and rentals.
As much as we’re tempted to flee the planet for a few days after Congress’s bumbling efforts to understand social media and Facebook’s refusal to deal with privacy issues, the $9.5 million ticket will keep us here on earth.
But an $80,000 refundable deposit gets you a tentative reservation – and yes, they sold four months of reservations in 72 hours.
Have to get that GoFundMe account set up.
Emory Craig is a writer, speaker, and VR consultant with extensive experience in art, new media, and higher education. He speaks at global conferences on innovation, education, and ethical technology in the future. He has published widely and worked with the US Agency for International Development, the United Nations, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Living at the intersection of learning, games, and immersive storytelling, he is fascinated by AI-based avatars, digital twins, and the ethical implications of blurring the boundaries between the real and the virtual.