In the off chance you have nearly $10 million burning a hole in your pocket and you really want to go on vacation to outer space, have we got a trip for you.
Why is this surprising? First of all, a 12-day trip costs a whopping $9.5 million, so you’ve got to be insanely rich to even consider this once in a lifetime excursion. But clearly, enough wannabe astronauts have the means to drop nearly $10 million on an impossibly cool vacation.
Frank Bunger, CEO of Orion Span, said in a press release:
We are thrilled with the immediate response we’ve received following the opening of reservations at Aurora Station.
People from all over the world are extremely excited by the prospect of space travel and want to enjoy our authentic astronaut experience.
We’re proud to be at the leading edge of moving space travel forward, and our long term goal remains to make it accessible to all.
For those super-rich travelers deadset on embarking on an out-of-this-world journey, they’ll get to enjoy a nice vacation 200 miles above the surface of our planet, eat space-grown veggies, and orbit the earth every 90 minutes, therefore seeing 16 sunrises every day.
You can’t get that at the Four Seasons, can you?
“Experience the Impossible,” Orion Span’s website reads. “Aurora Station will be the world’s first luxury space hotel in orbit 200 miles above the Earth’s surface. We will be equipped for a remarkable astronaut experience that can be had nowhere else in the known universe.”
But before guests can blast off and leave earth behind for 12, they need to complete a three-month training program. You know, because it’s not exactly easy on the human body to leave earth’s atmosphere and experience zero gravity.
Normal payments with traditional currency are accepted, but in case you’ve invested in cryptocurrency, that is also an acceptable form of payment.
Furthermore, Orion Span will subsidize part of the mind-numbing cost if you’re someone who is researching microgravity in an approved project. “Research in zero gravity (aka microgravity) represents some of the most exciting unlocked potential for all humankind,” they explain.
“Orion Span strongly supports the core mission of microgravity research to underpin the remarkable discoveries awaiting us in a zero gravity environment. We are therefore subsidizing the cost to host research for qualifying institutions.”
The Aurora Station is set to officially open for business in 2022, but reservations can be made now — if you can afford it.
Let’s just hope it’s all on the up and up, and doesn’t turn into an interstellar Fyre Festival.
Volkswagen just announced a revival of those Beetle-based dune buggies that used to rumble over sandy beaches during the ’60s and ’70s.
A concept version of a fully electric buggy will be displayed at the Geneva Motor Show in March. Aside from the power plant, there is one other key detail that distinguishes it from its aftermarket predecessors.
The new buggy is built on VW’s modular electric drive matrix (MEB)—the same platform that the ID Buzz Cargo electric van rides on. The German automaker says in a press release that the MEB is “just as flexible” as the old-school Beetle chassis…and hopefully way safer.
But this is a true buggy. A pair of pics revealed by VW shows the EV’s knobby off-road tires, removable roof and lack of conventional car doors, plus a badass hood scoop.
“A buggy is more than a car,” said Klaus Bischoff, VW’s head designer. “It is vibrancy and energy on four wheels. These attributes are embodied by the new e-buggy, which demonstrates how a modern, non-retro interpretation of a classic can look and, more than anything else, the emotional bond that electric mobility can create.”
Keep your fingers crossed for a production run of the VW electric dune buggy.
Ben Affleck has been there, done that, and he’s ready to leave the bat cave. When The Batman hits screens, critics won’t have him to kick around anymore.
Yes, there will be a new Batman movie with that title.
Matt Reeves directed the excellent Planet of the Apes reboots and will direct The Batman, which Deadline reports will feature a Bruce Wayne somewhere south of middle age.
A tweet from Ben Affleck showed he is actually more than fine with that. He was originally slated to direct the movie—based on his own script—before Reeves took over in 2017.
Look, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad and Justice League weren’t…great. They killed it at the box office but critics were often “meh” at best.
For whatever reason, Affleck’s version of the Dark Knight as seen in those movies seemed to get some of the blame for these things, as if he were a less-than-optimal caped crusader following the growly scenery-chewing of Christian Bale.
For now we have about two years of fan-casting to go before we find out who next takes over Gotham’s night watch.
The Batman is slated for release on June 25, 2021.
It’s the last thing anyone wants to see in the rearview, especially in Texas. I’m on Highway 71 headed westbound out of Austin, happy as a Lone Star barbecue, when suddenly my entire rear glass is shrouded in blue and red flashing lights.
The dread that overwhelms me is like a knee to the solar plexus from Daniel Cormier. Damn. How did I let this AMG seduce me? Because as we all know, speed infractions are always the vehicle’s fault—never the driver’s. I pull over and start stammering sorrowful excuses. After a quick shuffling of paperwork, the officer admits he never quite got a fix on me, but was pretty sure I was speeding.
With ruffled brow, he and his partner take a couple laps around the gorgeous matte-black Mercedes, eyeing me suspiciously, and then release me back into the wild. The pit in my stomach lifts, replaced with joy as soon as I ease on the throttle and hear the hand-built 4.0-liter V-8’s vibrations rumble through the quad exhausts.
Even cruising the GT four-door brings a static sense of exhilaration; I had no idea I was doing north of 80 mph. That’s how natural the sedan feels at speed. I resolve to save the high jinks for my next destination: the Formula 1 coliseum known as the Circuit of the Americas (COTA).
A quick glance might fool you into confusing this AMG sedan with Mercedes’ other “four-door coupe,” the CLS. Fair enough. It’s safe to say the CLS single-handedly created the segment more than 10 years ago, but the fraternal twins are children of different gods.
The CLS is a luxury-driven sedan with a windswept profile; the AMG GT 4-Door Coupe is only the third vehicle built entirely from the ground up by the lunatics over at AMG (the others being the SLS and the two-door GT).
Meaning, this is no ordinary Benz with a couple AMG badges glued on. It’s a dyed-in-the-wool high-performance machine bred for hooliganism. Imagine the already handsome CLS after two months on the keto diet, slim and taut. Muscles bulging from sheet metal, with lines more easily defined, the GT 4-Door is lower, wider, and sleeker, with a considerably more raked windshield. Its headlamps even look more pissed off.
But where the GT 4-Door Coupe truly separates itself from the entire sedan field—be it the CLS or cars from Italy, the U.S., and elsewhere—is on the track. The GT63 S courses with architectural technology that transforms the quite heavy (about 4,600-pound) stretched hatchback into a full-on track-razing monster.
Pairing up its torque- vectoring 4MATIC+ AWD (see sidebar) with an electronically controlled rear differential lock, AMG dynamics, and an adaptive air suspension lays the foundation for incredible agility—especially for its weight class.
Add on next-level tech like rear-axle steering, active aerodynamics (front lip and multistage rear spoiler), and adaptive engine mounts that stiffen to brace chassis rigidity (all standard on the 63 S) and you have a bristling spaceship that boasts a startling potential for individualization (it’s got six drive modes and four dynamic levels).
On the 3.4-mile-long COTA track, the GT63 S handles astoundingly well, its extra-fat Michelin Pilot Sport tires gripping tight on corners and its 630 available horses exploding out of apexes. And on the long straights, the “hot V” twin-turbocharged V-8 provided so much pull (664 lb-ft of torque) our courage crumbled way before the throttle did. We even sniffed the 195-mph top speed from about 30 mph away on COTA’s endless last stretch, and it smelled like wood-fired pepperoni pizza.
All those metrics are bonkers for a sedan that seats four adults
comfortably, but perhaps the most outrageous is its zero-to-60-mph sprint of 3.1 seconds. That’s faster than mid-engine supercars like the Audi R8 V10 and the McLaren 570S. (The non-S 63 is no joke either, mind you, with 577 horsepower, 553 lb-ft of torque, 193 mph top speed, and a still-ludicrous zero-to-60 run of 3.3 seconds.)
Of course, it’s not just with Maxim behind the wheel that the
Mercedes-AMG GT63 S 4MATIC+ soars to such heights. The supersedan is so fast, so clear-eyed and capable on the crucible of a high-speed circuit that it just set the new lap record on the Nürburgring’s vaunted “Green Hell.” That makes it the fastest series production four-seater ever to roll rubber on the North Loop.
Your move, Porsche.
AMG Performance 4MATIC+AWD
What does this alphabet soup really mean? It means the nerds over at AMG HQ have devised an even more intelligent AWD system (brains and hardware) that better distributes torque between the front and rear axles, providing a seamless transition from rear-wheel to all-wheel drive and back. So regardless of strain on corners, the architecture figures out the optimum
traction and delivers it to that wheel—right up to the physical limit.
There’s even a “Drift” mode standard in the Race setting, which funnels all the juice to the GT’s rear wheels, assuring ear-pinning tomfoolery. Yay! But 4MATIC+ doesn’t only help when you’re shredding tires on the COTA; it also lets the GT find the best footing in rain and snow.