Agence France-Presse—The National Aeronautics and Space Administration on Friday says it will open up the International Space Station (ISS) to business ventures including space tourism—with stays priced at $35,000 a night—in a move to financially disengage from the orbiting research lab.
“NASA is opening the International Space Station to commercial opportunities and marketing these opportunities as we’ve never done before,” says NASA chief financial officer Jeff DeWit.
There will be up to two short private astronaut missions per year, says Robyn Gatens, deputy director of the ISS.
NASA adds that the missions will be for stays of up to 30 days. As many as a dozen private astronauts could visit the ISS per year.
These travelers would be ferried to the orbiter exclusively by the two companies currently developing transport vehicles for NASA: SpaceX, with its Crew Dragon capsule, and Boeing, which is building one called Starliner.
These companies would choose the clients and bill for the trip to the ISS, which will be the most expensive part of the adventure: around $58 million for a round trip ticket.
That is the average rate the companies will bill NASA for taking the space adventurers up to the ISS.
But the tourists will also pay NASA for their stay in space, for food, water and use of the life support system on the orbiter.
That will run about $35,000 per night per astronaut, says DeWit.
The space station does not belong to NASA. It was built along with Russia starting in 1998, and other countries participate in the mission and send up astronauts. The US pays for and controls most of the modules that make up the orbiter, though.
This will not be the first time that the ISS will welcome tourists. US businessman Dennis Tito has paid around USD 2o million for the space trip.
Featured Image from NASA
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