Orbite begins the countdown to space training programs

After getting its start in Seattle and testing its business model in France and Florida, a space travel venture called Orbite is ready to start signing up customers for private-sector astronaut training programs.

And although it’ll be a while before those programs begin in earnest, Orbite CEO Jason Andrews says the first 500 people to make a refundable deposit will be in for some astronaut-worthy experiences between now and then.

“What we are announcing today is just the beginning,” he said.

Orbite plans to invite early-stage customers in its Founders Club to attend a series of space-adjacent events, starting with a rocket-launch watch party in Florida next spring and continuing with gatherings that could include an underwater adventure in the Florida Keys and a trip to Antarctica.

Andrews said Founders Club members could spend part of their $5,000 pre-booking deposit on one of those tours, or put all the money toward a training program at Orbite’s Astronaut Training and Spaceflight Gateway Campus in Florida.

That training facility, mapped out by French industrial designer Phillippe Starck, is due to be built at a site that’s yet to be disclosed in the area around Florida’s Space Coast and Orlando. Protracted business negotiations led to delays in the development schedule, but the facility is currently set to open in 2026, Andrews said.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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