Undated handout photo issued by NASA of the International Space Station photographed from the space shuttle Atlantis. Bigelow Aerospace plans to use SpaceX, a rocket company run by CEO Elon Musk, and each flight to space would have four seats for the group of private astronauts.
Previously, commercial organizations have only been able to use the ISS for research purposes; now NASA is open to letting them make a profit in low Earth orbit (LEO).
The US space agency has announced that it will be opening its doors for tourism and other business ventures.
According to NASA, the first private astronaut missions could blast-off as early as 2020.
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There will be up to two short private astronaut missions per year, said Robyn Gatens, the deputy director of the ISS. The plan is part of NASA's oft-stated goal to become one of many users, or customers, in the low-Earth orbit economy.
"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. As part of its new policy directive, NASA will also open up the space station to possible marketing and advertising activities.
Last year, a committee formed by the Trump administration floated the idea of allowing astronauts to appear in marketing, such as on cereal boxes, for commercials to be filmed in the space station or even for extra-terrestrial rover vehicles to have logos in the way that racing cars do.
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. The committee is headed by an attorney who works in government relations for the space tech firm Maxar Technologies.
It said that a private commercial entity would be charged with determining crew composition and ensuring that the private astronauts meet the medical and training requirements for spaceflight. Getting private astronauts to and from the space station will remain a large financial hurdle.