NASA has announced that the orbiting International Space Station (ISS) is open for business, in a move the federal agency hopes will accelerate private opportunities for low-Earth orbit.
Visits to the ISS are now open for purchase, after NASA announced last week that the first private visitors to it could arrive by as early as next year.
However, it’s more than likely that visits will cater to a certain kind of clientele, in one small, but expensive, step for man – one giant leap for private business.
Visits will put international travellers’ back by a whopping USD$58 million ($83 million) per round-trip ticket, according to ABC News.
Moreover, accommodations will reportedly run at around USD$35,000 ($50,000) per night for trips up to 30 days, according to NASA chief financial officer Jeff DeWitt.
“But it won’t come with any Hilton or Marriott points,” DeWitt told reporters during a news conference last week at Nasdaq, New York City.
NASA reports more than 50 companies are already conducting commercial research and development on the space station through the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory.
In addition, NASA has worked with 11 different companies to install 14 commercial facilities on the station supporting research and development projects for NASA and the ISS National Lab.
The agency’s ultimate goal in low-Earth orbit is “to partner with industry to achieve a strong ecosystem in which NASA is one of many customers purchasing services and capabilities at lower cost”, the federal agency said.
NASA said the effort is intended to broaden the scope of commercial activity on the station.
The news comes a few months after a partnership between Russian company Roscosmos and US-based Space Adventures was announced to provide holidays to the ISS.
On Twitter, Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin described the deal as “the first contract for the flight of amateur cosmonauts in a decade’s absence” since the disbandment of tourists aboard the ISS.
In a statement, the company said the first flight under the combined deal should happen within the next couple of years.