The worldwide space station: The next hot tourist destination

International Space Station

NASA already permits some commercial activity on the ISS, but the agency said it's looking to boost its offerings to companies so that "innovation and ingenuity can accelerate a thriving commercial economy in low-Earth orbit".

As part of its directive to open the station for commercial use, the USA space agency will support up to two private astronaut missions to the space station each year.

There will be two 30-day missions per year for tourists aka private astronauts who can visit the ISS.

. The companies will also have to pay all the launch costs and handle astronaut training and selection themselves, which puts the total cost of a mission in the tens of millions of dollars.

SpaceX, on the other hand, may have to push Dragon's maiden crewed flight to 2020 following a test failure at the end of April, which resulted in the destruction of the crew capsule. The agency will even consider letting NASA astronauts participate in commercial marketing, at least in support roles "behind the camera".

The space agency announced steps to commercialize the ISS at the Nasdaq stock exchange on Friday. Getting private astronauts to and from the space station will remain a large financial hurdle.

There will be up to two short private astronaut missions a year, with the stay on board costing $35,000 (£27,500) a night. This vehicle is similar to NASA's now-retired space shuttle in that it can be sent up by rocket into LEO, and return to Earth by landing on an airstrip.

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The International Space Station could soon become humanity's next hottest tourist destination.

As record amounts of outside investment pour into the US space industry, companies like SpaceX are making the promise of cheaper commercial travel to the so-called "final frontier" more attainable.

But it remains unclear if commercial activity in earth orbit is profitable because it is still so expensive to get up there in the first place.

"We have no idea what kinds of creativity and literally out-of-the-world ideas can come from private industry", Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's head of Human Exploration and Operations, declared Friday.

In March, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence pledged to return American astronauts to the Moon by 2024 - four years earlier than planned given increased competition in space from rivals such as Russian Federation and China.


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