NASA has just announced that it will open the International Space Station (ISS) to business ventures including space tourism.
As of next year daring tourists looking for the ultimate out-of-this-world experience will be able to take a trip to the ISS – but it won’t come cheap!
NASA chief financial officer Jeff DeWit said:
“NASA is opening the International Space Station to commercial opportunities and marketing these opportunities as we’ve never done before”
Initially the trips will be limited, with up to two private astronaut missions per year, according to Robyn Gatens, deputy director of the ISS.
Private astronauts will be permitted to travel to the ISS for a maximum of 30 days, travelling on US spacecraft.
There are currently two companies in the running to provide this experience to space tourists – SpaceX with it’s Crew Dragon capsule, and Boeing, who are building a capsule called Starliner.
These companies will choose the clients and bill for the trip to the ISS and back – which will cost around $58 million for the round trip ticket.
On top of that the tourists will also pay NASA for their food, water, use of the orbiter’s life support system, and their stay. This is expected to cost approximately $38,000 per night per head.
The space station does not actually belong to the NASA. Other countries including Russia worked together with the US to build it and send it into orbit, sending their own astronauts up, back in 1998. However, the US paid for most of the controls and modules that make up the orbiter.
These new space tourists taking a trip to the ISS will not be the first. Wealthy US businessman Dennis Tito was the first to make the trip back in 2001, paying Russia around $20 million for the honor.