The International Space Station ( ISS ) will be open to private companies and tourists by 2020, NASA announced, seeking ways to withdraw from the financial commitment of the space outpost, according to BBC, quoted by Mediafax.
” NASA opens the International Space Station to commercial opportunities ,” said Jeff DeWit, chief financial officer at the Nasdaq headquarters in New York .
“NASA will annually authorize up to two short missions with private astronauts,” said Robyn Gatens, one of NASA officials in charge of the ISS.
The missions will take up to 30 days , can be carried out by citizens of any nationality, but will reach the outer outpost exclusively with the help of the two US private companies currently developing transport vehicles: SpaceX, the Crew Dragon Capsule, and Boeing, with the Starliner capsule. Theoretically, capsules should be operational at the end of 2019, but they should be tested.
These companies choose their customers and issue the transport bill, which will be the most expensive part of the adventure, about $ 58 million for a round trip . This is the average fare that NASA pays for transporting its own astronauts.
NASA will account for orbit, food, water, toilets, life support onboard the station, cost approximately $ 35,000 per night, per astronaut , Jeff DeWit announced.
The ISS does not belong to NASA, the station has been built since 1998 with Russia, and over the years the two nations have joined them. Currently, it is a $ 100 billion space project, funded mainly by the United States of America and involving 16 countries. The station is permanently occupied, since November 2000, by joint crews. The ISS is in terrestrial orbit at an altitude of 400 kilometers, making a complete rotation around the Earth every 90 minutes, navigating at an average speed of 28,000 kilometers / hour. Weighing over 408 tons, the ISS offers a living space equivalent to that of a Boeing 747.
ISS was also visited by space tourists, the first US businessman Dennis Tito in 2001. He paid Russia about $ 20 million to get to ISS. Others followed, most recently Canadian Guy Laliberté, the founder of Cirque du Soleil, in 2009.
Since 2011, Russian Soyuz capsules are the only means of transporting people to ISS and have led to space outposts exclusively for space agency employees.
What NASA does not offer is transporting space. Those who want to get to the ISS will have to use the services of private companies. SpaceX and Boeing are working on such solutions, which will probably turn them into solutions for the public. However, transport costs are much lower than those for accommodation. A race to the Space Station may cost up to $ 60 million.
Another interesting announcement about the International Space Station is that it will be able to host new private modules. Interested companies will be able to build and attach their own new areas to the Space Station where they will be able to operate. Of course, these activities will have to be scientific, NASA having strict rules on what can be done on board the station.
Bigelow Aerospace, a Las Vegas-based company in Nevada, is already planning to use SpaceX missiles to transport up to four people to the Space Station in one go. It was also visited by seven tourists in the past on Russian-organized trips, according to The Times. The station’s activity will not be interrupted by tourists, American scientists present there with the aim of helping NASA send an astronaut to the Moon by 2024. For commercial and marketing activities, companies that want to use the Station will have to prove that they need the specially low-gravity environment they offer “to enable the manufacturing, production or development of a commercial application.”
Russia wants to resume the transportation of tourists to ISS in 2021.
Not only tourists will have access to ISS, but also private companies for “commercial and marketing activities.”
NASA wants to give up the financial support of the ISS in 2020, hoping that this task will be taken over by the private sector.
The agency wants to save money for the Artemis mission, which involves the return of the American astronauts on the Moon in 2024, and sending the first people to Mars.
Opening the International Space Station for Commercial Business on This Week @NASA – June 7, 2019
The International Space Station is open for commercial business, another space station resupply mission successfully completed, and making a virtual landing ...