Orbite invites famous designer for future space training complex

Orbite customers and instructors perform zero-G flight during spaceflight training. (Orbite photo)

French designer who created the interface Virgin galaxy, Spaceport America and Axiom Space . Orbital Habitat worked on another space-focused project: a space training complex planned by a Seattle-based venture called Orbite.

Orbite said Philippe Starck will design the Astronaut Training Complex and Spaceport Gateway, which is expected to include multiple buildings and be operational at a US site by the end of 2023 or 2024.

For now, that’s all that can be said about the project. Other details, including the site chosen for the complex and specifics of Starck’s vision for the facility, will be announced in the coming months.

“We will have to wait a little longer over the winter,” Orbite co-founder Nicolas Gaume told GeekWire. “We think it’s great to announce that such an amazing designer, who shares so much of our vision for astronaut orientation, preparation and training, can be revealed.”

72-year-old Starck has designed projects ranging from hotels and yachts (including a yacht for late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs) come bathroom supplies. But he’s well known for his space-related projects, which include Virgin Galactic logo close-up combination of the irises of billionaire founder Richard Branson.

Today, Starck said: “Space is the future. “With the Astronaut Training Complex and the Spaceport Gateway, I am honored to be able to offer individuals the rare educational opportunities to step in the astronaut shoes and prepare for the future. thrilling orbits in space.”

Starck said the Orbite project was “inspirational and groundbreaking”.

“I am delighted to be collaborating with Orbite on this one-of-a-kind project that advances the opportunity for civilization to encounter the wonders of space and celebrates the uniqueness of the Earth,” he said.

Gaume and the other co-founder of the privately funded venture, veteran space entrepreneur Jason Andrews, weren’t just waiting for Starck to come up with a set of drawings. Orbite (pronounced “Or-beo”, French style) conducted an initial “adult space camp” in France in August, and next training session will take place in Florida early next month.

Lessons are more expensive than your typical teen space camp: August’s five-day four-night program costs $29,500, and December’s three-day two-night session starts at 15,000 dollars.

But Gaume, whose family runs a boutique hotel in France has been renovated under the guidance of Starck, knows how to combine the experience of space and luxury to create value for the upper-class clientele. For example, August’s program includes space food tastings as well as zero-G and high-G aeroplane flights.

Practitioners also wear virtual reality headsets to experience four types of space travel experiences, including suborbital flights powered by Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, trips into orbit on the SpaceX Crew Dragon, and Cruise around the moon aboard SpaceX’s unbuilt Starship.

Andrews, who chaired by Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries Prior to partnering with Gaume, Orbite said Orbite was finding a niche specifically in the fledgling spaceflight training market.

“We have positioned ourselves as this neutral third party,” he said. “We had this ‘try before you buy’ opportunity, to say, ‘You’re about to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not tens of millions of dollars. Maybe you should understand what you’re getting yourself into. and what kind of adventure do you want.’”

Eight customers took part in the inaugural training program in August, and Gaume predicts that about a third of them will take an honest flight with kindness in the coming years.

Andrews said the August session was a test.

“We designed our entire facility around a class size of 10, so this was an opportunity to test that hypothesis,” he said. “Is that the right size? Is it too big? Is it too small? The way we understand it is, most of these people, if they go [on a spaceflight], there will be only four people participating at a time, or five or six people. So you take two pills worth five people and put them together. “

The experience “really validates the class size and what we want to do in the future,” says Andrews.

2021 was the year that space tourism finally took off, largely due to Branson’s Virgin Galactic Voyage; Blue Origin trips made by Jeff Bezos and William Shatner, and Inspiration4 . Orbital Mission in the SpaceX Crew Dragon. Andrews hopes all those flights – plus Axiom Space’s First Mission to the International Space Station, scheduled for early next year – will make more people think about training with Orbite.

“You saw William Shatner when he got off the Blue Origin flight – he was just blown away by its grandeur,” Andrews said. “And that’s really what Orbite does. It prepares people for those opportunities.”

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