Already next year, NASA will provide the International Space Station for space tourists and other businesses. Sounds exciting, but the costs involved are far beyond what most of us can afford.
NASA does not fully own the ISS, and the Space Agency is currently unable to independently launch astronauts into orbit. However, this does not prevent them from opening the space station for the commercial sector.
In a statement this week, NASA CFO Jeff DeWit said the space station is providing "unprecedented space for corporations and private astronauts," as reported by Yahoo News .
Many companies are already using the ISS to conduct commercial R & D, but the new effort is expected to broaden the scope and include other activities, such as space tourism, NASA said in a press release.
] NASA announced that private ISS flights will start in 2020 and missions will take up to 30 days. However, staying aboard the ISS Hotel is not cheap, as the New York Times priced at $ 35,000 ($ 50,01
Broken down, these are $ 22,500 ($ 32,153) for access to inventories. additional 11,250 USD (16,076 USD) for things such as water, oxygen and the use of the toilet; and $ 50 ($ 71) per gigabyte if you use the station's data downlink (you want to limit the number of selfies you send to friends back on Earth), according to a new NASA policy ,
These costs are extrapolated over 30 days, and the bill suddenly rises to over $ 1.4 million. And with each short-lived stay four seats, NASA can earn up to $ 4.2 million ($ 6 million) per mission, according to more calculations.
However, NASA will only do this twice a year, which limits their profits. The real reason for this is to work towards privatizing the space station and freeing up resources, as planned for their apparent 2024 mission to the moon.
NASA also stated that it is not involved in transporting tourists to the space station. Private companies must charter a flight with a commercial space flight solution currently under development by NASA's Commercial Crew Program.
Currently, this means booking a flight on SpaceX or Boeing, both of which are currently developing crew modules (but with some difficulty at SpaceX). NYT reports that Bigelow Aerospace has already reserved four launches at SpaceX, and Axiom Space, which plans to fly tourists to the ISS next year, plans to do the same.
Oh, and if you thought the night fare on the ISS was expensive, nothing compared to the cost of getting there. According to a BBC post, the cost per flight could be up to 60 million US dollars (86 million US dollars). This is the same price that NASA has to pay to send their own astronauts into orbit.
Finally, NASA will not carry out a review of the incoming teams. This, in turn, will be up to the companies themselves to ensure that budding private astronauts "comply with NASA's medical standards and the training and certification procedures for the International Space Station crew members."
To stay on the ISS you do not just have to be rich, but also be as fit and trained as a real astronaut. Good luck.
Interestingly, under the other new guidelines announced this week, NASA will provide a spaceport, along with its associated vendor utilities, to connect their own commercial modules to carry out their various activities.
Unfortunately, companies up there can not do everything they want, such as: For example, you may want to set up an extraterrestrial escape space because you must comply with NASA rules.
As already mentioned, NASA does not own the ISS. It is a cooperation program involving Europe, Russia, Canada, Japan and the United States and is implemented through a series of international agreements. It is not immediately obvious that the US can suddenly privatize the station or do what they want with it.
"It will be very difficult to make the ISS a truly commercial outpost because of the international agreements in which the United States is involved," said Frank Slazer, Aerospace Industries Association Vice President of Aerospace Systems ]. The Washington Post in 2018.
"It will by nature always be an international construct that requires the involvement of the US government and multinational cooperation," he told the Post .
In fact, it will take some time, if any, for the private sector to fully occupy the ISS. However, this week's announcement strongly suggests that NASA is withdrawing its activities related to the ISS as it focuses on the upcoming lunar mission.