NASA has decided to go commercial with its tourism and other business ventures. It will set the trend by accepting tourists to the International Space Station from 2020 and charge them $35,000 per night. Robyn Gatens, the deputy director of the ISS, said the plan right now is to have two missions every year. These would be short private ones with a duration of up to 30 days. Transportation would be by Elon Musk's SpaceX or by Boeing.

The former would be using its Dragon capsule, and the latter it's spacecraft Starline which is still under development. ISS could become a favorite Travel destination for the rich and the famous.

BBC quotes chief financial officer Jeff DeWit as saying – “NASA is opening the International Space Station to commercial opportunities and marketing these opportunities as we've never done before." It will be the responsibility of the private commercial entities to determine crew composition and ensure that tourists meet the basic requirements pertaining to medical and training for spaceflight.

Policy change for NASA

In the past, NASA had ruled out any commercial use of the International Space Station. There was also a prohibition on astronauts associating in profit-related research.

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However, NASA is not the sole owner of the station. Work on building it began in 1998 and Russia was involved in it. Subsequently, there were small steps taken towards commercialization. In 2001 it hosted a US businessman as the first tourist who paid Russia nearly $20 million for a round trip.

Obviously, NASA has changed its policy.

BBC says its announcement on Friday appears to be an indicator that it is on the path to full privatization of the sky lab. US President Donald Trump wants to withdraw funding of ISS by 2025 and the space agency must explore alternate sources of generating funds. It has already announced plans of returning to the moon by 2024 and having the first woman there.

The International Sky lab is going places

According to NBC News, it was in 1998 that work on building the sky lab began.

Its construction was entirely in low-Earth orbit, and is a partnership of the U.S., Canada, Japan, Russia and 11 member states of the European Space Agency. It has been in orbit around the Earth for two decades with the explicit purpose of conducting research and is now on its way to transform into a model for developing new business markets. There is a change in the basic concept and the International Space Station has thrown open its doors for business.

The revised plans of the ISS include tourism and offering other companies opportunities to conduct experiments. NASA plans to release one docking port to private operations. For this, it could go in for attaching an additional module to the station. Once the station begins commercial ventures, it will help the space agency to focus its resources on returning to the moon followed by mission to Mars. Incidentally, Russia wanted to set up a luxurious hotel in the ISS to accommodate space tourists.

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