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Nasa to open International Space Station to tourists next year

Updated June 08, 2019

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This March 25, 2009 photo provided by NASA shows the International Space Station seen from the Space Shuttle Discovery during separation. — AP
This March 25, 2009 photo provided by NASA shows the International Space Station seen from the Space Shuttle Discovery during separation. — AP

NEW YORK: Nasa said on Friday it will open up the International Space Station to business ventures including space tourism — with stays priced at $35,000 a night — as it seeks to financially disengage from the orbiting research lab.

“Nasa is opening the International Space Station to commercial opportunities and marketing these opportunities as we’ve never done before,” Nasa chief financial officer Jeff DeWit said in New York.

These travellers would be ferried to the orbiter exclusively by the two companies currently developing transport vehicles for Nasa: SpaceX, with its Crew Dragon capsule, and Boeing, which is building one called Starliner.

Neither Dragon nor Starliner are ready. Their transport capsules are supposed to be ready in late 2019, but the timetable depends on the results of a series of tests. So the private missions will have to wait until 2020 at the earliest.

There will be up to two short private astronaut missions per year, said Robyn Gatens, deputy director of the ISS.

The missions will be for stays of up to 30 days. As many as a dozen private astronauts could visit the ISS per year, Nasa said

Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2019