Starting as early as next year, NASA will make the International Space Station available to space tourists and other business ventures. Sounds exciting, but the associated costs are far beyond what most of us can afford.
NASA doesn’t fully own the ISS, nor is the space agency currently capable of independently delivering astronauts to orbit, but that’s not stopping it from opening the space station to the commercial sector. In an announcement made earlier today, NASA’s Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWit said the space agency is making the space station available to business ventures and private astronauts “as we’ve never done before,” as reported by Yahoo News.
Many companies already use the ISS to conduct commercial research and development, but the new effort is intended to broaden the scope even further and include other activities such as space tourism, as NASA explained in a press release.
NASA said the private ISS flights will start as early as 2020, with missions lasting up to 30 days. A stay aboard the Hotel ISS, however, won’t come cheap, with the New York Times reporting a cost of $35,000 per night. Broken down, that’s $22,500 for access to supplies, an additional $11,250 for stuff like water, oxygen, and use of the toilet, and $50 per gigabyte when using the station’s data downlink (yikes, you’ll want to limit the number of selfies you send to friends back down on Earth), as per a new NASA directive. Extrapolate these costs over 30 days and the bill suddenly ramps up to over $1 million. And because each short-duration stay will include four seats, more math tells us that NASA could earn as much as $4.2 million per mission.