NASA Says The International Space Station Will Now Be Open For Citizens

It's a major change in NASA policy.

NASA announced on Friday that it will begin allowing private citizens to take a trip to the International Space Station (ISS). All you'll need is a few million dollars or to be part of one of the companies now bidding for space on the ISS.

The news is a pivot for the space agency, which has been resistant to allowing or involving any private citizens and corporations outside of NASA to visit. It opens the door for private companies to do research inside the space station and will create a market for space tourism companies to sell packages that send people to space.


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NASA says it will charge $35,000 a night for amenities like water, food room and board on the ISS to private companies. According to The New York Times, tourist agencies will likely charge far more — perhaps in the millions — to account for the cost of the space flight. 

"This is a huge different way for us to do business," William H. Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for human exploration and operations, said during a news conference.

Because the space station has avoided any for-profit endeavors, the news is expected to help generate some revenue to maintain the ISS. Currently, NASA spends about $4 billion a year, or $8 million a day, to operate the ISS, according to The Verge. The new space tourism won't cover that cost or make NASA profit, but it will certainly help.

Private citizens have been to the space station in the early 2000s, but those trips were run by Russia, which has been far more generous and welcoming to private sector visitors. 

"This is the beginning of us actively starting open dialogue with the industry to figure out how we can open up space to commercial activities, where revenue can be generated from private sector companies," Gerstenmaiersaid. 

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