Nasa to open International Space Station to tourists

A large mass of storm clouds over the Atlantic Ocean near Brazil and the Equator as seen from the ISS

A large mass of storm clouds over the Atlantic Ocean near Brazil and the Equator as seen from the ISS

There will be up to two short private astronaut missions per year, said Robyn Gatens, the deputy director of the ISS.

NASA will allow private citizens to stay at the International Space Station (ISS) for month-long getaways at a cost of about $35,000 per night, the US space agency said on Friday.

Undated handout photo issued by NASA of the International Space Station photographed from the space shuttle Atlantis.

While private astronauts will now be allowed aboard the ISS (at an estimated $58 million a seat), DeWit envisions that within decades companies will be building small space stations for private use.

NASA is opening the International Space Station to commercial opportunities and marketing these opportunities as we've never done before, ' NASA's Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWitt said in a press conference Friday morning.

Eventually, Nasa hopes the space station will be just one of several "commercial and free-flying habitable destinations in low-Earth orbit".

Unsurprisingly, the once-in-a-lifetime trip comes with a price tag which is out of this world - the private missions will cost $35,000 (£27,500) per astronaut, per night.

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

Once on the space station, whoever is paying the bills for the private mission will have to pay NASA for food, water, shelter and safety.

Arrangements for the trip were being left to Boeing and SpaceX, NASA said.

The space agency revealed its plans to commercialise the ISS on Friday, in part to offset the costs of running the station.

"We are so excited to be part of Nasa as our home and laboratory in space transitions into being accessible to expanded commercial and marketing opportunities, as well as to private astronauts", said astronaut Christina Koch, in a Nasa tweet. In other words, in the future, NASA wants to be the buyer of low-Earth orbit services, not the seller.

'Commercial companies will play an important role both here in low-Earth orbit an around the moon, working with NASA to test technologies, train astronauts, and develop a sustainable human presence'.

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