Got $50 Million For Vacation? NASA To Open Space Station To Tourists

Pablo Tucker
June 7, 2019

"The costs average out to about $35,000 per night", said Jeff DeWit, NASA's chief financial officer.

Nasa said on Friday (June 7) it will open up the International Space Station (ISS) to business ventures including space tourism - with stays priced at US$35,000 (S$48,000) a night - as it seeks to financially disengage from the orbiting research lab.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine suggested previous year the agency would consider being open to branding deals, so the marketing activities aspect of today's announcement doesn't come as a surprise.

NASA's Russian counterpart Roscosmos has already allowed a number of private citizens at the station.

While private astronauts will now be allowed aboard the ISS (at an estimated $58 million a seat), DeWit envisions that within decades companies will be building small space stations for private use.

NASA has announced a plan to allow tourists to fly on the International Space Station for the first time starting next year. In addition, NASA will charge visitors for food, storage and communication once at the station.

There will be up to two short private astronaut missions per year, said Robyn Gatens, the deputy director of the ISS.

It's been nearly a decade since the last tourist visited the International Space Station via a Russian spacecraft, but NASA could be opening the hatch to new private astronauts as soon as 2020.

'Transitioning to this new model of business is an important step to enable NASA to move full speed ahead toward our goal of landing the first woman and the next an on the moon. NASA won't directly coordinate the trips, but companies like Axiom Space are hoping to make the arrangements.

The space agency revealed its plans to commercialise the ISS on Friday, in part to offset the costs of running the station.

NASA is now planning to end its support of the ISS by 2024, the same year that NASA astronauts are slated to return to the surface of the moon.

In addition to maintaining a sustainable commercial presence in low-Earth orbit, the agency expects commercial entities to play a central role in establishing a sustainable human presence on the moon.

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