NASA has announced a plan to allow tourists to fly on the International Space Station starting next year، daily mail reported.
Up to two private astronaut missions will be allowed per year، each lasting 30 days at most.
But، a trip to space won't come cheap – with life support systems and all necessary supplies considered، it will cost an eye-watering $35،000 per night at minimum.
The announcement came as NASA unveiled its new business model on Friday، revealing a plan to incorporate more commercial and marketing opportunities ‘both in low-Earth orbit and around the moon.’
'Today is a very remarkable day،' NASA's Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWitt said in a press conference Friday morning.
'NASA is opening the International Space Station to commercial opportunities and marketing these opportunities as we’ve never done before.'
'This is all building off our upcoming Commercial Crew vehicles transporting astronauts، which will be used by both government and private citizen astronauts،' DeWitt added.
These brief space tourism missions will be privately funded and may launch as early as 2020، according to NASA.
NASA had already tapped Boeing and SpaceX to develop crew modules for its commercial program.
The two aerospace giants have been working for months to get their craft ready ahead of planned tests this year، though both have been hit with setbacks throughout the process.
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner completed a crucial hot fire test at the end of May and has since been transported to Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station ahead of its August crewed test flight.
SpaceX، on the other hand، may have to push Dragon’s maiden crewed flight to 2020 following a test failure at the end of April، which resulted in the destruction of the crew capsule.
NASA says it will be making one station port available for commercial modules.
'Enabling a vibrant economy in low-Earth orbit has always been a driving element of the space station program and will make space more accessible to all Americans،’ astronaut Christina Koch said in an announcement streamed from the ISS.
‘Transitioning to this new model of business is an important step to enable NASA to move full speed ahead toward our goal of landing the first woman and the next an on the moon.'
‘Commercial companies will play an important role both here in low-Earth orbit and around the moon، working with NASA to test technologies، train astronauts، and develop a sustainable human presence،' Koch said.
NASA says it will allocate five percent of its annual crew resources and cargo capability for the commercial endeavors.
This includes 90 hours of crew time and 175 kg of cargo launch capability.
But، it says it will limit the amount provided to any one company.
The opportunity has already garnered a lot of interest، and according to NASA، opening up the ISS to commercial entities will help the agency rake in funds needed to stay on track for its planned 2024 moon landing.
Bigelow Space Operations tweeted after the announcement that it has made significant deposits for the ability to fly up to 16 people to the International Space Station on 4 dedicated flights.'
It's likely to be joined by others in the coming months.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST? A private mission on the International Space Station will cost a minimum of about $35,000 per night.
Private astronauts will need to cover the cost of:
Regenerative life support and toilet: $11,250 per day Crew supplies (food, air, medical kit, etc): $22,500 per day Stowage: $105 per day Power: $42 per kiloWatt/hour Data downlink: $50 per GB