In case you weren't aware, 2020 is something of a disaster. We're thinking it would be really, really great if we could just get off the planet for a little while—doubly so considering we've hardly been able to travel anywhere this year. As it turns out, Hotels.com feels the same way.
The online travel agency recently announced intentions to become the first booking platform to operate in, uh, the space space, sending travelers to the stars. The tongue-in-cheek plan includes renderings of what space hotels might look like (spoiler alert: they look like they belong in sci-fi films) hosted on the website onesmallstepforhotels.com.
Though the plan is a bit far fetched and mostly in jest, Hotels.com is offering $250 gift cards to the first 20 travelers with planetary names, à la Venus Williams or Roman Mars, who register through the site, and that's a genuine promotion. Then, at the very bottom of the landing page is the following note, complete with contact info: "If you're a company with plans to build hotels in space, Hotels.com wants to be your booking partner!"
So will Hotels.com actually be the first online travel agency to work with space hotels? It's not impossible. There are some space hotels in the works, though we're years away from seeing any of them get off the ground—literally. Here's a quick rundown on the feasible space hotels in the works.
International Space Station
As NASA shifts its focus from the International Space Station (ISS) to sending astronauts to the moon and Mars, it plans on opening up the orbiting research facility to commercial operations, from private researchers to space tourists. The latter will be able to pay some $35,000 per night to stay onboard—potentially as soon as next year. Aerospace company Axiom Space has signed a contract with SpaceX to send private astronauts to the ISS in the second half of 2021.
"Since 2012, SpaceX has been delivering cargo to the International Space Station in partnership with NASA, and later this year, we will fly NASA astronauts for the first time," SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell said in a statement. "Now, thanks to Axiom and their support from NASA, privately crewed missions will have unprecedented access to the space station, furthering the commercialization of space and helping usher in a new era of human exploration."
Axiom Space also has plans to launch its own orbiting facility, Axiom Station. The project will begin its life as a parasite to the ISS—that is, NASA has already contracted Axiom to develop modules that will be attached to the station, potentially as soon as 2024. When the ISS is finally retired, the Axiom modules will detach and become a standalone facility for researchers and tourists. Oh, and did we mention that starchitect Philippe Starck will design the interiors? Axiom Station is going to be luxe.
Aerospace company Orion Span is getting in on the space hotel game with Aurora Station, a modular facility scheduled to launch in 2021, with guests arriving a year later. We’ll be honest, we definitely expect that timeline to be extended, but Orion Span is already taking deposits for stays. A refundable $80,000 sum will hold your spot on a 12-day mission that’ll cost a cool $9.5 million in total. You can even place your deposit in cryptocurrency!