I hope there’s complimentary freeze-dried ice cream.
Today, NASA made a huge announcement in regards to its policies on private and for profit space flight. According to Chief Financial Officer of NASA, Jeff DeWit, private astronauts will be allowed to join in a mission to the International Space Station after paying a daily fee of about $35,000 along with $50 million for the journey there and back.
NASA plans on starting off small with one or two private citizen “astronauts” going along for a short trip to space as soon next year. The cost of living in that setting is extremely high due to the nature of transporting life support into space, and the high cost of sending a rocket into space is also why the private astronauts will have to be extremely wealthy individuals for now.
NASAs announced that it is opening the ISS to other commercial endeavors as well, including manufacturing and research in the zero gravity environment. Due to the remote setting, many companies are willing to pay for the cost of travel and living in order to utilize the ISS for these types of commercial opportunities. NASA hopes to renew some of the public fervor for space travel that was potent during the early days of the Apollo missions and during the Space Shuttle era of the late 80s and 90s. Hopefully, this kind of commercial synergy will pump new life into the space exploration programs, which would benefit from a modern approach to marketing and gaining public interest.
This latest announcement comes on the heels of another major announcement that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration made: a manned mission to the lunar surface. The plan is to send astronauts to the moon and back for the first time in almost 50 years, taking up the mantle from the famous Apollo lunar missions. In total, American astronauts have successfully landed on the moon six times from 1963 to 1972, and we have yet to return since. An unmanned Chinese probe successfully landed on the moon earlier this year, perhaps sparking a renewed interest in getting back to the moon once again in the US. NASA also recently made announcements in regards to the ongoing missions to Mars, and when humans may possibly be setting foot there.