Published: Sat, June 08, 2019
Sci-tech | By Javier West

NASA to open International Space Station to private astronauts

NASA to open International Space Station to private astronauts

The space agency introduced a broad initiative on Friday that rolls out a welcome mat for private astronauts, commercial businesses and marketing opportunities onboard the ISS.

NASA will allow ordinary (ultra-rich) people to go on private astronaut missions to the ISS and stay there for up to 30 days.

"The agency can accommodate up to two short-duration private astronaut missions per year to the International Space Station".

"If you look at the pricing and you add it up, back of a napkin, it would be roughly $35,000 a night, per astronaut", NASA's Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWit told a news conference in NY.

"Nasa is opening the International Space Station to commercial opportunities and marketing these opportunities as we've never done before", Nasa chief financial officer Jeff DeWit said in NY.

Astronauts have dazzled the world in recent years with photos and videos shot from the International Space Station.

Suggestions include: providing accommodations like sleeping facilities, toilets, galleys for visitors; research and development facilities; in-space manufacturing for use on Earth (eg fiber optic components) or in space (eg spacecraft parts); entertainment; advertising; transportation to and from low Earth orbit; and large structure assembly, such as satellites or the spacecraft to take us to Mars. She described it as a "new model of business" that will help NASA reach its goal of returning Americans to the moon.

Friday's announcement marks the first time NASA is allowing private astronauts on board.

CFO NASA Headquarters' Jeff DeWit, Robyn Gatens, Deputy Director, International Space Station at NASA Headquarters, and Bill Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator, NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, sit during a news conference announcing that NASA is opening the International Space Station for commercial business, so U.S. industry innovation and ingenuity can accelerate a commercial economy in low-Earth orbit, at the NASDAQ Market site at Times Square in New York City, U.S., June 7, 2019.

While some might fear seeing the ISS plastered with Doritos and Budweiser logos, NASA has already laid out some guidelines for what it considers acceptable commercial and marketing activities: They must require access to the unique microgravity environment, have a connection to NASA's mission or "support the development of a sustainable low-Earth orbit economy".

'This is all building off our upcoming Commercial Crew vehicles transporting astronauts, which will be used by both government and private citizen astronauts, ' DeWitt said.

Eventually, NASA wants to see ISS replaced by a privately run space station.

Nasa will also allow film crews to shoot from the ISS as part of its commercialisation.

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