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You Can Now Book a Stay at the World's First Space Hotel

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iStock

Looking for an exotic vacation destination with stellar views? If you're willing to wait a few years, you may be able to stay aboard the Aurora Station, a luxury space hotel that developer Orion Span plans to have open to guests by 2022.

According to The Architect's Newspaper, the hotel will be the world's first fully-modular space station, if Orion Span's current timeline comes together. It will also be the first space station to operate as a hotel. The initial capsule will be 43.5 feet long and 14 feet wide, with extensions potentially being added to accommodate more guests.

To experience the Aurora in person, guests will first need to complete a three-month training program. That includes an online course, classes at Orion Span's training facility in Houston, Texas, and final training on the space station itself. While that's a lot more prep time than what's required for your average hotel stay, it's just a fraction of the time invested by astronauts training on Earth.

Once on board the Aurora, up to six passengers, including professional astronaut guides, will share a 35-foot-by-14-foot living space. Orion Span's website reads:

"At an altitude of 200 miles, your views will be far superior than those of other space destinations: close enough for great detail and photographing your hometown, far enough to get a glimpse of our broader pale blue dot. With an orbit complete every 90 minutes, you'll see countless sunrises and sunsets."

Start-ups have been promising to pioneer space tourism for years, but so far these plans have been mostly talk and little action. If Orion Span wants to be different, it will need to raise a lot of funding and find a launch provider in just four years, and the company has yet to reveal how it plans to do either. Even if the project does make it off the ground, booking a ticket will be difficult for most people: A 12-day trip will cost $9.5 million per person, and reservations for the first four months have already sold out.

If you're still interested, you can contact Orion Span to put down your refundable $80,000 deposit.

[h/t The Architect's Newspaper]

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ESA/ATG
The European Space Agency Needs Help Naming Its New Mars Rover
ESA/ATG
ESA/ATG

The European Space Agency is hosting a competition to find a snazzy new name for its ExoMars rover, Sky News reports. The rover will be deployed to Mars in 2020, so the winner would be playing a small role in the progress of space exploration.

At the contest's launch, British astronaut Tim Peake described Mars as a place where humans and robots will someday work together to search for evidence of life in our solar system. To this end, the ExoMars rover, which will land on Mars in 2021, will drill up to two meters into the planet’s soil and collect samples, the ESA notes. "The ExoMars rover is a vital part of this journey of exploration, and we're asking you to become part of this exciting mission and name the rover that will scout the Martian surface,” Peake said.

However, the agency is well aware of past public naming contests that have gone horribly wrong (we’re looking at you, Boaty McBoatface), so it’s rigged the rules to prevent such a spectacle. Instead of a public poll, suggestions will be submitted privately to the agency, which has created a panel of judges to choose the winning name.

The winner of the contest will also receive a trip to Stevenage, England, where they’ll get to see the Airbus facility where the rover is being pieced together. The contest is only open to citizens of the two dozen European countries that are partners in the ESA.

To enter, submit your name suggestion online before October 10, 2018, along with a brief explanation (under 150 words) of why your name should be chosen. Click the following PDF link to see the full terms and conditions [PDF].

[h/t Sky News]

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NASA, Getty Images
Watch Apollo 11 Launch
Vice President Spiro Agnew and former President Lyndon Johnson view the liftoff of Apollo 11
Vice President Spiro Agnew and former President Lyndon Johnson view the liftoff of Apollo 11
NASA, Getty Images

Apollo 11 launched on July 16, 1969, on its way to the moon. In the video below, Mark Gray shows slow-motion footage of the launch (a Saturn V rocket) and explains in glorious detail what's going on from a technical perspective—the launch is very complex, and lots of stuff has to happen just right in order to get a safe launch. The video is mesmerizing, the narration is informative. Prepare to geek out about rockets! (Did you know the hold-down arms actually catch on fire after the rocket lifts off?)

Apollo 11 Saturn V Launch (HD) Camera E-8 from Spacecraft Films on Vimeo.

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