Fly me to the Moon… or maybe just the International Space Station as it’s 383,992 km closer to Earth.
NASA are set to allow private citizens to play among the stars, for a fee, mind.
A NASA directive has detailed their plans to open up space travel for commercial purposes to ISS, and it’s all detailed in the punchily titled: NASA Interim Directive (NID): Use of International Space Station (ISS) for Commercial and Marketing Activities.
As reported by The Verge, the directive opens up the ISS to private companies and citizens for producing, marketing, and testing products.
Those who can afford the trip will be permitted to utilise the equipment aboard ISS, and even covers making use of astronauts time and expertise, however you can’t purchase rights to use their likeness, no siree Bob. Heck, if you have the cash you will even be able to send your own astronaut up there.
The commercial ventures to ISS aren’t just a distant pipe dream, either. It is reported NASA are aiming to bring in the new revenue stream as early as 2020.
The topic has been pondered for a while now. As The Verge reports, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine addressed the agency’s musing on such financial endeavours in August 2018.
Bridenstine reportedly said at the time:
Is it possible for NASA to offset some of its costs by selling the naming rights to a spacecraft or the naming rights to its rockets?
I’m telling you there is interest in that right now. The question is: is it possible? And the answer is I don’t know, but we need somebody to give us advice on whether or not it is.
NASA had been under pressure to find revenue streams after the Trump administration announced in 2018 they were seeking to end direct funding for ISS by 2025. The deadline was heavily critiqued by lawmakers and ultimately no longer a hard deadline, but clearly the space agency got the hint.
ISS has a reported running cost of $3-4 billion every year, and is expected to only remain in orbit for another decade. Commercialising the station now may well create significant means of funding new ventures, including the replacement of ISS with a space station orbiting the Moon.
You can check out some of their price list below:
It won’t be a free-for-all to companies, however. Only 175 kilograms per year will be permitted in commercial cargo, while just 90 hours of NASA crews’ time will be available for commercial purposes. Private missions to ISS are limited to two flights per annum, and private astronauts can remain aboard for a maximum of 30 days.
A docking port will also be available should private firms which to send their own module to the station.
Use of life support systems and the toilet will cost $11,250 per astronaut per day, and crew supplies will cost $22,500 per day. But, you’re in space, you’ll get what you pay for.
So we may not see what spring is like on Jupiter or Mars just yet, but we’re getting closer!
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An NCTJ Journalist with an MA in Sports Journalism, Kieron is an experienced social media journalist who has worked in the industry since 2015. His experience includes work with ITN, the MEN, WISH/WIRE/TOWER FM, and 8:50 Sports Digest… not forgetting his time at ASDA.