NASA to open ISS hatch for commercial businesses, private astronauts

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"If you look at the pricing and you add it up, back of a napkin, it would be roughly $35,000 a night, per astronaut", NASA's Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWit told a news conference in NY.

A private mission on the International Space Station will cost a minimum of about $35,000 per night.

"This is a momentous day for, not only NASA and the space economy, but honestly for US industry as a whole", said the space agency's CFO Jeff DeWit.

Undated handout photo issued by NASA of the International Space Station photographed from the space shuttle Atlantis.

Private astronaut trips of up to 30 days will be available to the public from 2020.

The space agency recently announced that it planned to return to the moon by 2024, taking the first woman there and the first person in decades.

But the U.S. has paid for and controls most of the modules that make up the orbiter.

"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 NY. Nasa said it believes it can accommodate up to two privately-funded, short duration missions a year with, essentially, space tourists. With or without NASA, the 20-year-old station is approaching the end of its lifetime. As part of its new policy directive, NASA will also open up the space station to possible marketing and advertising activities.

The ISS already hosts some commercial research and development activities, but NASA intends to broaden that scope.

Other details, such as exactly who would be eligible to buy a ticket to the ISS, were not disclosed.

"Enabling a vibrant economy in low-Earth orbit has always been a driving element of the space station program, and will make space more accessible to all Americans", said Koch.

'This is all building off our upcoming Commercial Crew vehicles transporting astronauts, which will be used by both government and private citizen astronauts, ' DeWitt said. Getting private astronauts to and from the space station will remain a large financial hurdle.

Up to 12 private astronauts will be able to visit the ISS each year, Nasa said.

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