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Space Station to Accept Tourists, Moviemakers

Private astronauts get the green light, starting next year
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 7, 2019 12:22 PM CDT
This 2009 photo shows the International Space Station seen from the Space Shuttle Discovery during separation.   (NASA via AP)

(Newser) – Get in line for the International Space Station. Starting in 2020, NASA will send private astronauts to ISS for up to 30 days, as part of a plan to open the 20-year-old station to tourism and other business ventures. Commercializing the ISS "will enable NASA to focus resources to land the next man and the first woman on the moon by 2024," Jeff DeWit, NASA's chief financial officer, said at a Friday press conference, per Space.com. Private astronauts will fly on US spacecraft, likely from SpaceX and Boeing. The AP estimates the cost of a round-trip ticket at $58 million.

Two private missions will fly each year, at least initially, reports the BBC. Companies will be allowed to film "commercials or movies" in low Earth orbit, reports the the Verge. Though Russia has long been open to ISS commercialization—the country has even sent tourists there—the move marks a shift for the US. Any private astronaut that goes up would have to undergo training first and be medically approved, per Space.com. (NASA spends $3 billion to $4 billion a year on ISS operating costs—funding that will dry up after 2024.)

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