The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has announced its decision to open the International Space Station (ISS) to various business ventures, including space tourism.
Considering the resources needed to get trained professionals to travel outside the Earth's atmosphere safely, it would be expected that these commercial space flights and trips would be the most expensive flights there is. Estimates show that the cost of the to-go outer space, and then back to the planet Earth could reach tens of millions of dollars, with an additional $35,000 per night.
During the NASDAQ stock exchange in New York, Jeff DeWit, the chief financial officer for NASA announced that the agency will be opening the International Space Station to commercial opportunities and marketing these opportunities as the agency has never done before.
Robyn Gatens, the deputy director of the ISS, added that there will be up to two short private astronaut missions every year.
Plans for the commercial space flights would involve the two US companies currently developing transport vehicles for NASA, namely SpaceX's Crew Dragon Capsule and Boeing's Starliner.
The two companies will choose their clients according to different criteria that would deem the travelers as capable of being in such a kind of environment and transport experience. The companies and the agency have pointed out that it is not necessary for travelers to be of US citizenship.
The cost of a round-trip ticket is set to the tune of $58 million. According to reports, neither Dragon nor Starliner are ready as of the moment. Still, the timetables for both spacecraft are set to be ready by late 2019. Because of this, a conservative estimate shows that private missions will have to wait until 2020.
In 2001, US businessman Dennis Tito had the honor of being the first space tourist that have gone to the ISS. The space trip cost Tito around $20 million, which he paid to Russia. NASA was opposed to such a mission at first but ended up being paid by the Russians for the US business man's stay on the ISS.
On 2024, NASA is planning a manned mission to the moon; and by the 2030s, the agency is looking to plan a manned mission to the Red Planet. These missions would require a lot of funding. The agency's decision to open ISS to tourists could aid in funding the said near future NASA missions.