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Space agency or travel agency?: NASA to open ISS to tourism

  • Buzz
  •   06-07-2019  5:00 pm

Space agency or travel agency?: NASA to open ISS to tourism
The International Space Station (image courtesy of NASA)

Have a client with millions of dollars to spare?

Then NASA – yes, that NASA – may soon have the ultimate trip in store.

As part of a move toward privatization of the International Space Station, NASA has announced that in 2020, it will be opening the facility to overnight staysstarting at $35,000 USD per night – by ‘private astronauts’ for up to 30 nights.

READ MORE: The final frontier: Virgin Galactic makes successful spaceflight

During a press conference, NASA said that these commercial space flights would be conducted by private commercial entities including SpaceX and Boeing (which is building a spacecraft called the Starliner) who would would be responsible for determining crew composition and ensuring that the travellers meet the medical and training requirements.

While pricing is yet to be announced, it’s expected that travellers would be charged a similar price to what they intend to bill NASA for its astronauts - close to $60M USD per flight.

The move toward privatization of the ISS – a joint program between the U.S., Russia, Japan, Canada and the European Union – comes after the Trump administration stated that it intends to cut government funding toward the U.S. portion of the program by 2025.

In 2001, U.S businessman Dennis Tito became the first private visitor to the ISS, after paying Russia around $20 million USD for a round trip.