NASA announced its plan to open the International Space Station (ISS) as early as 2020 to private astronauts who want to see life on the other side of Earth’s atmosphere.
Parts of the ISS will be opened for space tourism and commercial filming, according to The Washington Post. Private astronauts can use the ISS for “missions of up to 30 days,” NASA said in its announcement in New York on Friday.
“Commercial companies will play an important role both here … and around the moon, working with NASA to test technologies, train astronauts and develop a sustainable human presence,” said Christina Hoch, a resident of the ISS, in a video on Twitter.
Russia 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.
Companies have already reserved spots, including and Axiom Space of Houston and Bigelow Aerospace of North Las Vegas, The New York Times reported. Bigelow Aerospace plans to use SpaceX, a rocket company run by CEO Elon Musk, and each flight to space would have four seats for the group of private astronauts. NASA won’t directly coordinate the trips, but companies like Axiom Space are hoping to make the arrangements.
The estimated price tag rings in at about $50 million for a seat, with companies charging about $35,000 for nightly expenses, according to WaPo.
Up until now, NASA had not allowed ISS to be used for commercial purposes. The agency will also begin fielding ideas for a commercial module to the station soon.
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