NASA Planning to Open Up the International Space Station for Approved Tourists

NASA Planning to Open Up the International Space Station for Approved Tourists

Commercial companies, facilities and private astronauts will now have access to the $150 billion International Space Station. The private astronauts that will be allowed to stay on the space-orbiting laboratory will have to pay $35,000 for a day’s stay. This amount is calculated on the basis of the daily expenses of the space station in the form of life support and communications.

The multi-part plan introduced by NASA will allow 2 of these astronauts per year for a span of 30 days. The astronauts will be allowed to get there only by a US spacecraft like the upcoming ones from SpaceX or Boeing. The program comes in an attempt to rescue NASA out of many of its long-existing financial problems. The space agency currently pays around $3-4 billion to run its operations at the space station.

NASA’s inspector general, Paul K. Martin said back in 2018 that “Each year the station remains in orbit, NASA allocates roughly half of its total human space flight budget to ISS operations – an expenditure that limits the agency’s ability to fund development of systems needed to visit the moon and other destinations beyond low-Earth orbit.” NASA is also planning on opening up a port on its space station to allow laboratories and other commercial facilities in an attempt to increase the commercialization.

Back in 2008, Richard Garriott who is one out of the seven private astronauts who visited the ISS called this move in the space policy as a “seismic shift”. Garriott is an English-American entrepreneur who was allowed to stay at the ISS for two weeks in return of $30 million. He later said that though NASA was against their presence at the government-run facility, they had to comply because of the international space agreements and conventions and the fact that Russia agreed to take them.