NASA Opens International Space Station to Tourism, Commercial Use
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
In the past, if you wanted to become a NASA astronaut, you had less than a 1 percent change of getting the gig. Now, all you need is a stack of money, connections and a little bit of training because private companies can now access the International Space Station (ISS) for commercial use, NASA officials announced Friday at the Nasdaq Stock Exchange.
The US space agency has plans to allow up to two private astronaut missions per year, with each mission lasting no longer than 30 days. No, NASA is not directly selling anyone two tickets to space; it’s letting private companies rent a portion of the ISS, and it’s that company’s responsibility to get tourists to the space station.
While this may sound farfetched and years in the making, billionaires such as Jeff Bezos, Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk have already been developing their space companies. Virgin Galactic, Sir Richard Branson’s space tourism venture, reached space for a second time in February of this year. A suborbital ride around Earth with Virgin Galactic starts at $250,000. Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’s rocket company, had also previously announced that rides will cost between $200,000 and $300,000.
NASA must approve the commercial space vehicle to the space station, and private companies are encouraged to conduct commercial and marketing work on the station. With that being said, it isn’t required to have an educational or research component. NASA will allow some companies to venture up and do activities purely for profit. Although it probably doesn’t hurt to connect to NASA’s mission.
“We have no idea what kind of creativity and literally out-of-this-world ideas can come from private industry,” Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator of NASA’s human exploration and operations mission directorate said at the news conference in New York on Friday.
Those individuals with the funds who are daring enough to venture to space also have to be in shape– the bar is set pretty high for NASA’s medical and physical standards. Last requirement? Having the money to pay upwards of $35,000 a night for room, board, and well, air, said Jeff DeWit, NASA’s chief financial officer. This cost of course doesn’t include the price the space tourist companies will charge for rocket flights to and from space.
NASA is still looking into proposals for a possible module addition, and it will select a final plan by the end of the year. Regardless, companies have already begun reserving spaces and arranging flights for tourists. Bigelow Space Operations is planning on using SpaceX, Elon Musk’s rocket company, and it has already reserved four launches. SpaceX’s latest spacecraft just completed a four-week stay at the ISS on June 4 after delivering 5,500 pounds of supplies.
Bigelow Space Operations has made significant deposits for the ability to fly up to 16 people to the International Space Station on 4 dedicated @SpaceX flights. Photo credit: @NASA pic.twitter.com/MPCo6T8SHy
— Bigelow Aerospace (@BigelowSpace) June 7, 2019
To many of us, floating around in space is more of a dream than a financial reality. But never dismiss even the craziest travel plans with points and miles. Virgin Atlantic is still currently offering the option to redeem 2 million Virgin Atlantic miles for your name to get entered into a drawing for a seat on a Virgin Galactic sub-orbital spaceflight. Not to fret, if you don’t win, you aren’t charged.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.