The United States space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration said on Friday that it has decided to open up the International Space Station for tourists. The ISS will be opened for tourism from 2020, priced at $35,000 (Rs 24.28 lakh) per night, BBC reported.
There will be two private astronaut missions per year, NASA said in a press release. These will be up to 30 days each in duration. “These missions will be privately funded, dedicated commercial spaceflights,” the space agency announced. “Private astronaut missions will use a US spacecraft developed under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.”
Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Boeing will take private astronauts to the space station. While Space X will use the Dragon Capsule, Boeing is building a spacecraft called the Starliner.
The space agency also announced that it is opening up the ISS for business ventures. “Providing expanded opportunities at the International Space Station to manufacture, market and promote commercial products and services will help catalyze and expand space exploration markets for many businesses,” NASA said. Private astronauts can conduct these commercial activities aboard the orbiting laboratory subject to regulations, it added. The products can be made for sale on Earth.
“NASA is opening the International Space Station to commercial opportunities and marketing these opportunities as we’ve never done before,” Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWit said, according to BBC.
However, this is not the first time private persons have been allowed to visit the space station. In 2001, United States businessman Dennis Tito became the first tourist to visit the ISS when he paid Russia around $20 million for a round trip. The space station was built jointly by the US, Russia, Japan, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency in 1998.