The International Space Station will be open to commercial space travel for tourists and private astronauts from 2020. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said this is part of its effort to help “grow a robust space economy,” The ISS, which took the Russian space agency and 13 other countries to help build it, orbits about 240 miles above the Earth ’s surface, traveling around the globe every 90 minutes.
The announcement has come at a time when the U.S. government ’s plans to fully privatize the International Space Station by the year 2025, with NASA saying it will save money by leveraging private industry capacity, innovation and competitiveness.
Jeff DeWit, NASA chief financial officier, said the agency is opening the International Space Station to commercial opportunities and marketing it as never done before. He said they are keen to have the private sector become more involved in space, including the development of products useful on Earth.
An official press release said the space agency will support up to two private astronaut missions, up to 30 days each, to the space station each year. “The private astronauts will take a NASA-approved commercial space vehicle to the space station, and they will conduct commercial and marketing work on the station or in work spaces attached to the station.”
This is part of NASA’s Strategic Objective 2.1 that directs the agency to “lay the foundation for America to maintain a constant human presence in low-Earth orbit (LEO) to be enabled by a commercial market.”