Technology 3 min read

People no Longer Have to be NASA Astronauts to get Into the ISS

NASA officially announced that it's venturing into space tourism. Meaning, trips to the International Space Station will no longer be exclusive to NASA astronauts or foreign space scientists, but to private individuals as well. That is if they can afford the ticket price.

WikiImages / Pixabay

WikiImages / Pixabay

Soon, people don’t necessarily have to be NASA astronauts to orbit our planet.

On Friday, the US space agency announced that it’s opening the International Space Station to commercial access. Whether it’s for business, marketing, or space tourism, the new directive allows private astronauts to spend as much as 30-days in low-earth orbit.

The announcement comes amidst plans to place the first woman and the next man on the moon by 2024.

In a tweet, astronaut Christina Koch said:

“Transitioning toward this new model of business is an important step to allow NASA to move full speed ahead in landing the first woman and the next man on the moon.”

Last year, the Trump administration created an uproar when it proposed that the federal financing of the ISS be ended by 2024. The proposal suggested commercial alternatives -such as private-owned orbital outposts – to generate revenue.

Space Travel to Finance NASA Astronauts and Future Space Missions?

Tickets to the International Space Station won’t come cheap.

NASA will be charging private companies about $35,000 a night per passenger. Aside from sleeping in the station bed, the payment also covers using amenities such as air, water, toilet, and the internet.

And that does not include what the companies would charge rocket flight to and from the Space station.

Despite the excessive charge, revenues from the agency’s space tourism plan still won’t cover the expense of NASA astronauts and running the space station. According to reports, the agency currently spends between $3 billion to $4 billion a year.

According to NASA’s chief financial officer, Jeff DeWitt, it’s still a bit too early to estimate how much the agency could get from the venture. But, he doesn’t expect it to cover the space stations’ running expense.

In a statement to the press, DeWitt said:

“It’s not going to be a profit-making venture for NASA at all.”

With that said, the chief financial officer believes that the income could cover some of NASA’s cost and allow the agency to invest in other projects. Besides, as the market demand increases, the agency could adjust its rates accordingly, says DeWitt.

International Space Station; The Most Expensive Tourist Destination Ever

Las Vegas-based Bigelow Space Operations has already reserved four launches.

The company intends to use Elon Musk’s SpaceX to deliver private or non-NASA astronauts into the International Space Station. As a result, its schedule would be independent of NASA’s, and tourist would be able to stay longer.

According to Bigelow space Operations’ chief executive, Robert Bigelow, stays could be as long as 30 to 60 days.

Russia operates half of the International Space Station. And in the 2000s, the country organized a trip that took seven private citizens to the outpost.

At the time, NASA said it wasn’t interested in such ventures.

Read More: NASA Prepares to Launch Organisms Into Deep Space

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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