You'll Soon Be Able to Take a (Very Expensive) Holiday to the International Space Station
NASA is opening the low-orbit facility to private astronauts, as well as commercial and tourism ventures.
Last week, NASA announced that it would start rocketing into space from Australia. This week, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration has revealed plans to allow tourists to not only soar beyond the earth, but spend time on the International Space Station. If you've ever wanted to hang out in an artificial satellite that's orbiting the planet — and you have spare piles of cash secreted away — your dreams might just be about to come true.
Possibly commencing as early as 2020, private astronauts will be able to spend up to 30 days on the ISS, with two tourists allowed onboard at any one time. But before you go getting too excited, it'll come at a cost, obviously. Visitors will need to pay US$11,250 a day for use of life support and bathroom facilities, plus an extra $22,500 per day for food, air and medical supplies — and also fork out for the presumably ultra-expensive trip to actually get there.
NASA won't be running an off-planet bed-and-breakfast, unsurprisingly, or a space public transport system. Rather, the move comes as part of a broader approach, with the ISS opening to commercial ventures in general — including private tourist outfits. The latter will be able to arrange the privately funded, dedicated commercial spaceflights for eager visitors, using NASA-developed US spacecraft. They'll also be responsible for flight crews, as well as ensuring that private astronauts meet the necessary medical and training requirements.
Overall, NASA's statement talks of accelerating "a thriving commercial economy in low-earth orbit" — with businesses able to operate out of the station. While more than 50 companies are already involved with the ISS, their work is currently restricted to research and development; however that'll no longer be the case.
Expect to keep hearing more about the agency's commercial efforts, given that there's another aim in store as well: landing the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024.
Published on June 08, 2019 by Sarah Ward