On Friday NASA announced that the orbiting outpost is now open for business to private citizens, with the first visit expected to be as early as next year.
NASA's Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWit said that, "A round trip ticket likely will cost an estimate $58 million. And accommodations will run about $35000 per night, for trips of up to 30 days long. But it won't come with any Hilton or Marriott points."
Space shuttle program ended in 2011, NASA has flown astronauts to the space station aboard Russian rocket. The agency has contracted with SpaceX and Boeing to fly future crewed missions to the space station. Private citizens would have to make travel to make travel arrangements with those private companies to reach orbit. Visitors are not required to be of US only but can be citizen of any other country too.
DeWitt also said, "If a private astronaut is on station, they will have to pay us while they're there for the life support, the food, the water, things of that nature."
Agency plans to make two visitors per year to visit the orbit, even the private astronauts will have to meet the same medical standards, training and certification procedures as regular crew member.
Friday's announcement marks the first time NASA is allowing private astronauts on board. The space agency will not be selling directly to customers. Instead it will charge private companies that ferry passengers, which can pass on the costs to visitors, NASA spokeswoman Staphanie Schierholz said in an email. The program is part of NASA's efforts to open the station to private industries, which the agency hopes will inherit the orbiting platform someday.
The station will become too expensive for the government to maintain, so the idea is to let the private sector start using the station now and perhaps eventually take it over.