NASA to open ISS hatch for commercial businesses, private astronauts

NASA to open ISS hatch for commercial businesses, private astronauts

"We are announcing the availability for private astronauts to visit the space station on U.S. vehicles, and for companies to engage in profit-making activities on the station", said NASA CFO Jeff DeWit in a press briefing. Two of these short-stay missions will be allowed every year, and the first tourist may go up as early as 2020 using a USA spacecraft by SpaceX or Boeing developed under NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

"The costs average out to about $35,000 per night", said Jeff DeWit, NASA's chief financial officer.

The Nasa officials said some revenue from commercial activities will help the agency focus its resources on returning to the moon in 2024, a major goal of the Trump administration.

Parts of the ISS will be opened for space tourism and commercial filming, according to The Washington Post.

The new (very wealthy) space tourists would not be the first private visitors to the ISS, however.

The International Space Station photographed by Expedition 56 crew members from a Soyuz spacecraft after undocking, November 4, 2018.

NASA on Friday said it is opening the International Space Station for commercial business, a policy change expected to lead to employees of private companies working aboard the ISS as early as next year, with tourists to follow.

Russian Federation has already let private citizens onto the station, so it won't be the very first time a non-professional astronaut heads to space, WaPo reported.

The new directive will allow private astronauts to spend up to 30 days in low-Earth orbit aboard the ISS through trips planned by private companies.

"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", said Koch.

'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. As for business uses, NASA calls out space manufacturing, regenerative medicine and bioengineering as pursuits that would fit well with the ISS environment.

More than 50 companies are already using the ISS for research and development. It's doing so in the hope that private industry will play a supporting role in expanding the human presence beyond Earth.

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