Fancy a trip to Space Station?
Haven’t we all stared dreamily at the pictures of International Space Station shares by NASA? If only we could step on to those floors in the galaxy!
But now is your chance to experience a life at the Space Station. Yes, you read it right. The US space agency has announced that it would open the orbiting station to tourism and other business ventures. And the first visits can start from as early as 2020.
Not cheap huh!
But there’s a catch. It’s going to be an expensive trip. A round-trip ticket likely will cost an estimated $58 million. And accommodations will run about $35,000 per night, for trips of up to 30 days long, said NASA’s chief financial officer Jeff DeWit. “But it won’t come with any Hilton or Marriott points,” DeWit said during a news conference at Nasdaq in New York City. (LOL? Not funny.)
As if the money was any less a hassle, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration will allow up to two visitors per year, for now. Seems the competition is pretty high.
Travellers don’t have to be US citizens though. People from other countries will also be eligible, as long as they fly on a US-operated rocket.
Among the stars
Since the space shuttle program ended in 2011, NASA has flown astronauts to the space station aboard Russian rockets. The agency has contracted with SpaceX and Boeing to fly future crewed missions to the space station. These companies are likely to charge any private astronaut a similar “taxi fare” to what they intend to charge Nasa for its astronauts – close to $60m per flight. Private citizens would have to make travel arrangements with those private companies to get into orbit. But the private astronauts will have to meet the same medical standards, training and certification procedures as regular crew members.
NASA had previously banned any commercial use of the space station and prohibited astronauts from taking part in for-profit research.
NASA does not own the station however – it was built, beginning in 1998, with Russia, which has taken a more relaxed approach in recent decades to commerce.
In 2001, US businessman Dennis Tito became the first tourist to visit when he paid Russia around $20 million for a round trip.
Just in case life is found on some other planet, NASA actually has an Office of Planetary Protection.