For $55m, the super-rich can escape this planet for 8 days

HOUSTON: In an era in which privileged individuals search constantly for the next experience to obsess over and post about on social media, space truly remains the final frontier, a luxury that only the one percent of the one percent can afford. Brad Pitt and Katy Perry are among those who have reportedly plunked down $250,000 for a ride on one of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceships, undaunted by a 2014 test flight that crashed and killed one pilot. Now a company called Axiom Space is giving those with piles of money and an adventuresome spirit something new to lust after: the prospect of an eight-day trip to space that is plush, if not entirely comfortable, and with a bit of the luster of NASA as well. Mike Suffredini — NASA veteran and CEO of Axiom Space — stopped in front of a cardboard compartment as big as a telephone booth. “It” was an early mock-up of a cabin that will reside inside a commercial space station, among the first of its kind, that Axiom is building: a mash-up of boutique hotel, adult space camp, and NASAgrade research facility designed to hover approximately 402 km above Earth. Axiom hired Philippe Starck, the French designer who has lent panache to everything from high-end hotel rooms to massmarket baby monitors, to outfit the interior of its cabins. Starck lined the walls with a padded, cream-coloured, suede-like fabric and hundreds of tiny LED lights that glow in varying hues depending on the time of day and where the space station is floating in relation to the earth. “There will be Wi-Fi,” Suffredini said. “Everybody will be online. They can make phone calls, sleep, look out the window.”