NASA Plans to Open Up ISS Tourism To Private Astronauts At A Staggering $35,000 Per Night

Your next business trip may be in space. NASA recently announced that it will be opening up the International Space Station (ISS) to private astronauts. NASA also plans to allow more commercial manufacturing and production on the ISS.

Private astronauts will soon be able to stay on the ISS for up to thirty days, and only two astronauts will be approved per year. The astronauts will need to get to the ISS and back to earth by personally paying for a seat aboard a commercial US spacecraft. They will also need to pay $35,000 per day on the ISS for life support, communication, and other necessary goods and services. NASA plans to launch the program in 2020.

international space station
ISS, Image via NASA

Not just any wealthy person will be able to shoot off to the ISS. Private astronauts will need to perform duties that are related to pre-approved commercial activity. Private astronauts will also likely need to go through a series of tests to demonstrate that they can handle the rigors of the ISS.

More than fifty companies already conduct research on the ISS, but NASA hopes that it can encourage more. NASA is particularly interested in companies who plan to pursue in-space manufacturing, regenerative medicine, bioengineering, and “other fields that may lead to a scalable, financially self-sustaining demand for low-Earth orbit capabilities." NASA plans to open up a module on the ISS specifically for commercial activities. IT will also offer up to 90 hours of crew time and 175 kg of cargo launch capability to companies.

international space station nasa
ISS, Image via NASA

NASA’s latest allowance is part of their five-year plan to “accelerate a thriving commercial economy in low-Earth orbit”. NASA hopes to land the first female and next male astronaut on the moon by 2024. Unfortunately, NASA does not currently have enough funding to meet this goal. On top of it all, the ISS costs $3-4 billion USD each year to maintain. Many have argued that NASA needs to find new ways to draw in more funding.

NASA’s latest plan may help to open up more funding for its lunar projects. Some have also argued that commercialization will encourage researchers to find ways to make future space exploration more convenient and comfortable for astronauts. Richard Garriott, a businessman who paid the Russian government in 2008 to spend two weeks on the ISS, remarked, “The food is not phenomenal and the personal hygiene facilities are substantially lacking.”

You can always jump aboard SpaceX’s BFR, if you have money burning a hole in your pocket and do not have any planned low-orbital research planned. SpaceX plans to launch Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa and a few artists around the moon in 2023. The astronauts will spend roughly a week in a space. All of these developments will hopefully lead to a future where more and more private citizens are able explore and enjoy space.