Nasa’s space tourism coming in 2020: what you need to know

International Space Station (ISS)

NASA plans to allow tourists to visit the International Space Station (ISS) from 2020.

According to Nasa‚ ISS will support the growth of commercial space activities in low-Earth orbit. Private spaceflight will allow Nasa to turn its attention to Mars exploration while enabling more people than ever to experience space.

Here is what you need to know:

1) Cost to visit space

A one-night stay will be priced at US$35‚000 and there will be up to two short private astronaut missions a year.

Nasa said the missions will be for stays of up to 30 days. Calculate these costs over 30 days and the bill jumps to more than US$1m (ZAR14.9m). With each short-duration stay including four seats‚ Nasa could earn as much as US$4.2m (ZAR62.6m) per mission.

As many as a dozen private astronauts could visit the ISS each year.

2) How Nasa’s space tourism will work

Tourists will be shipped to the orbiter by the two companies currently developing transport vehicles for Nasa: SpaceX‚ with its Crew Dragon capsule‚ and Boeing.

These companies will choose the clients and bill for the trip to the ISS‚ which will be the most expensive part of the adventure — around US$58m (ZAR865m) for a round trip ticket.

That is the average rate the companies will bill Nasa for taking the space adventurers to the ISS. However‚ tourists will also pay NASA for their stay in space‚ for food‚ water and use of the life support system on the orbiter.

3) Training for amateur astronauts

Nasa won’t be vetting the incoming crews. That is the responsibility of the companies‚ who will need to make sure that prospective private astronauts “meet Nasa’s medical standards and the training and certification procedures for International Space Station crew members.”

So for a stay at the ISS‚ not only do you need to be rich‚ you will also need to be as fit and as trained as a real astronaut.

-Unathi Nkanjeni


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