NASA Hopes Commercialization Helps Fund Its Trip Back to the Moon

Monday, 10 Jun, 2019

NASA will begin allowing tourists to visit the International Space Station, but the trip is likely to be reserved for the ultra-rich who can afford the expected multimillion-dollar price tag.

As part of its new policy directive, NASA will also open up the space station to possible marketing and advertising activities.

NASA Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWit and ISS Deputy Director Robyn Gatens reveal NASA's increased commercialisation on Friday.

For this venture, NASA is conducting various experiments and research to finally make ISS commercial.

These travellers would be ferried to the orbiter exclusively by the two companies now developing transport vehicles for Nasa: SpaceX, with its Crew Dragon capsule, and Boeing, which is building one called Starliner. The conditions: They have to get there via a commercial U.S. spacecraft, such as SpaceX's or Boeing's upcoming vehicles, and pay $35,000 per day to cover for NASA's life support, communications, and other expenses (like $50 per gigabyte of data downloaded).

Missions can last as long as 30 nights and NASA will leave it up to the Commercial Crew Program to plan the trips and provide the training required to prepare private astronauts for space. While there they will perform duties that can include commercial and marketing activity, which will be limited by Nasa's rules. This is a pretty big change for NASA, which has traditionally been against commercializing the station. Nasa said it believes it can accommodate up to two privately-funded, short duration missions a year with, essentially, space tourists. That just means space is closer than ever for oligarchs, tech titans, and other assorted billionaires, while the rest of us will have to become astronauts the old-fashioned way, DIY style. "But it won't come with any Hilton or Marriott points".

NASA officials did not address whether the program might allow for any "space tourists" like the eight launches by the Russians between 2001 and 2009.

According to NASA, the first private astronaut missions could blast-off as early as 2020.

Using the ISS for Space Travelers could extend the spacecraft's mission in space, especially as NASA now focuses more on a manned flight to the Moon in 2024 and is planning to build a space station orbiting the Moon.

That being said, the cost of actually spending a day at the ISS is steep, and a person would need to stump $35,000 per night to be able to have the privilege of fulfilling his dreams.