WASHINGTON (June 8): Nasa announced Friday it will open up the International Space Station (ISS) to tourists.
According to Anadolu Agency, the US space agency said it would open the space station for "private astronaut missions" by allowing two flights per year, each lasting a maximum of 30 days.
The trips will cost approximately US$50 million (RM207 million), with Nasa making a US$35,000 profit per trip, according to CNBC.
The move comes as companies like Boeing and SpaceX develop capsules to take humans to the ISS, and Nasa said that those two companies will take care of those tourists and any needs they may have.
The first planned private mission to the ISS is set for as early as 2020, the space agency said.
The ISS has been slowly moving in the direction of privatization, with Nasa creating more and more deals with private companies to operate missions to the station.
The commercialization of the space station has been discussed thoroughly, with some saying it could help alleviate some of the costs incurred by the government for operating it, and could help spur a new business ecosystem in space.
Private companies will also have the opportunity to bid for new activities on the ISS, as Nasa unveiled an initiative to "enable commercial manufacturing and production and allow both Nasa and private astronauts to conduct new commercial activities aboard the orbiting laboratory.
"In the long-term, Nasa’s goal is to become one of many customers purchasing services from independent, commercial and free-flying habitable destinations in low-Earth orbit," the agency said in a press release.