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NASA: To open space station to visitors for $58 Million

NASA: To open space station to visitors for $58 Million: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is opening the International Space Station (ISS) to adventurous tourists, and those interested don’t need to hold their breath — space tourism could happen as soon as 2020. Though it won’t be cheap so you need to save/earn a lot.

NASA’s chief financial officer Jeff DeWit said at a news briefing today (June 7), “The space tourists, who must be from the United States, will embark on a fleet of commercial vehicles owned by the U.S. government. A round-trip ticket likely will cost an estimated $58 million. And accommodations will run about $35,000 per night, for trips of up to 30 days long. He joked that “it won’t come with any Hilton or Marriott points.”

Travelers don’t have to be U.S. citizens. People from other countries will also be eligible, as long as they fly on a U.S.-operated rocket. The ISS will be open to not only tourists but also commercial ventures. That means that product testing, private research and even filming for outer-space movies could take place aboard the station. Yes, the next Apollo movie could actually be filmed in space.

NASA anticipates that opening up the station to private travel will lessen the financial strain on the agency, which has faced recent cuts. The agency also hopes the move will free up funding for new ventures, like landing the “first woman … on the moon by 2024,” DeWit said.

However, NASA has limited space tourism to two private trips per year and plans to allocate no more than 5% of the space station’s resources to commercial use.

Since the space shuttle program ended in 2011, NASA has flown astronauts to the space station aboard Russian rockets. The agency has contracted with SpaceX and Boeing to fly future crewed missions to the space station. Private citizens would have to make travel arrangements with those private companies to reach orbit.

“If a private astronaut is on the station, they will have to pay us while they’re there for the life support, the food, the water, things of that nature,” DeWit added.

 

Friday’s announcement marks the first time NASA is allowing private astronauts on board. The space agency will not be selling directly to customers. Instead, it will charge private companies that ferry passengers, which can pass on the costs to visitors, NASA spokeswoman Stephanie Schierholz said in an email.

Eventually, the space station will become too expensive for the government to maintain, said Bill Gerstenmaier, a NASA associate administrator. So the idea is to let the private sector start using the station now and perhaps eventually take it over, he said.

The NASA officials said some revenue from commercial activities will help the agency focus its resources on returning to the moon in 2024, a major goal of the Trump administration. The agency said this will also reduce the cost to U.S. taxpayers for this next lunar mission.

The U.S. won’t be the first country to bring tourists to the station. Between 2001 and 2009, private Russian company Space Adventures facilitated seven space tourists’ trips to the ISS.