WASHINGTON: NASA might not be just about research and scientific discovery in the future. Instead, it might be another travel opportunity for the tourists out there.
Now NASA is planning to open the International Space Station for commercial businesses, including ones from the tourism industry, beginning in 2020. In addition, the space agency said in a statement that it is partnering with 11 companies to create 14 commercial facilities to aid in research and development projects.
Up until now, NASA has banned commercial flights to the ISS. However, since the station is not owned by one single country, tourists have gone there before, such as Dennis Tito, who paid the Russian government $20 million for a trip in 2001, the BBC reported.
But it comes as no surprise that NASA is easing up on their policies, considering that the Trump administration has proposed canceling three missions in 2020, according to Space.com.
NASA’s new plan will allow two private astronauts to the space station per year at a fairly steep price of $35,000 per night, according to The New York Times. Tourist missions may last up to 30 days, the agency said in a statement.
However, NASA is not using its own equipment or rockets to send tourists to the ISS. Instead, it is partnering with private companies, namely Elon Musk’s Space X and Boeing, to use their own modules to send up tourists, which means private astronauts may also have to pay extra hefty prices for their flights. No one ever said staying in space hotels would be cheap.
This new venture into space tourism could mean some financial security for the agency, which plans to send the first woman and the next man to the moon by 2024 as part of a long-term goal of eventually reaching Mars, according to the statement.