Thinking of some exclusive holiday destination? Consider travelling to space next year. An epic vacation of adventure and exploration!
NASA recently announced that it will for the first time allow private citizens to visit the International Space Station, an effort to open the orbiting platform to commercial opportunities, including space tourism.
And it’s going to be high-priced!
A round-trip ticket likely to 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.
They said the first visits are expected for 2020. Travelers don’t have to be US citizens. People from other countries will also be eligible, as long as they fly on a US-operated rocket. Visitors will have to train with crew members and meet the same medical standards applied to professional astronauts, officials said.
Depending on the market, the agency will allow up to two visitors per year, for now.
The space station has welcomed tourists before by way of Russian rockets. In 2001, California businessman Dennis Tito became the first visitor by paying for a journey and several others have followed. The Russian Space Agency ceased its space tourism operations in 2010. Since then, a number of private enterprises have started to pursue space tourism, resulting in various proposals in this area.
The recent announcement marks the first time NASA is allowing private astronauts on board. The space agency will not be selling directly to customers. Instead it has contracted with Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, Blue Origin, Orion Span and Boeing to fly future crewed missions to the space station. Private citizens would have to make travel arrangements with those private companies to reach orbit.
The program is said to be part of NASA’s efforts to open the station to private industries, which the agency hopes will inherit the orbiting platform someday.
Eventually, the space station will become too expensive for the government to maintain, said Bill Gerstenmaier, a NASA associate administrator. So the idea is to let the private sector start using the station now and perhaps eventually take it over, he said.
This week:— NASA (@NASA) 8 June 2019
📡 @Space_Station opens for business
🚀 @SpaceX completes a resupply mission
🕹️ @JimBridenstine makes a virtual landing
For a look at these stories and more, visit https://t.co/ImxbMM0Duy pic.twitter.com/7xjFQal94i
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. The agency said this will also reduce the cost to US taxpayers for this next lunar mission.
The concept of space tourism is one of the most exciting emerging features of the wider tourism industry, and companies like Virgin Galactic and SpaceX are already making waves by outlining plans to deliver various forms of commercial spaceflight in the near future. The Virgin Galactic space tourism company is aiming to provide regular suborbital spaceflights for paying customers.