While the ride won’t be cheap, it will surely be a dream-come-true for wealthy tourists and their never-ending thirst for places to explore.
A once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunity costing around $35,000 (S$47,800) per night, NASA now allows private citizens to stay at the International Space Station (ISS) for month-long getaways, the US space agency said on Friday as reported by Reuters.
This change in policy by NASA overturns an established injunction against tourists and private individuals interested in orbiting space on board rocket-and-capsule launch systems developed by Boeing Co and Elon Musk’s SpaceX which also echoes a more forceful push to expand commercial activities in space and at the ISS.
“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 New York.
“But it won’t come with any Hilton or Marriott points,” DeWit deadpanned.
NASA’s Russian counterpart Roscosmos has already allowed a number of private citizens at the station.
NASA officials also said opening the door to private enterprise gives the agency more room to focus on the Trump administration’s goal of returning to the moon by 2024, which could be fueled in part by revenue generated from new commercial services and paying astronauts. Arrangements for the trip were being left to Boeing and SpaceX, NASA said.
Space flights and the ISS
Beginning 1998 up to March 14, 2019, there were 95 human space flights to the International Space Station that have been carried out, however, all traveling groups were composed of astronauts and not private tourists/individuals.
The International Space Station is an interesting destination as this serves as a laboratory for human health, biological, and materials research, as a technology test-bed, and as a stepping stone for going further into the solar system. On the ISS, humans will learn how to improve and find news and better ways to make sure that astronauts are safe, that they remain healthy and productive while exploring. The space station will likewise assist humans in expanding current knowledge about how materials and biological systems behave outside of the influence of gravity.
Private space flights
Private spaceflight is not exactly a groundbreaking idea. Private companies have played a part in the industry since 1962, when NASA launched the first privately-built satellite.
Recently, organisations like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Boeing have begun competing for more large-scale government contracts. The launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy aims to show the world’s most powerful rocket since Saturn V by placing SpaceX’s very own Tesla roadster in the sun’s orbit.
Others like Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, are manifesting interest in focusing on space tourism. Test launch video from inside the cabin of the Blue Origin’s New Shepard shows off magnificent vistas of planet Earth and a relatively calm journey for its first passenger, a test dummy dubbed “Mannequin Skywalker.”
Myriad visions of zero-gravity somersaults could soon become a reality. With the implementation of ambitious NASA plans for exploration, the years to come will surely become major turning points in the history of spaceflight. -/TISG