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NASA To Open International Space Station To Commerce, Tourists

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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is opening up the International Space Station for tourists and commercial business from 2020. Private astronauts would be permitted to travel to the orbiting station on US spacecraft and stay there for up to 30 days, by paying $35,000 per night.

NASA Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWit explained at a news conference details of the US space agency's five-point plan to enable commercial and marketing activities aboard the International Space Station, and a long-term goal to achieve a robust economy in low-Earth orbit from which NASA can purchase services as one of many customers.

This is a policy shift by the US space agency, which had banned any commercial use of the space station and prohibited astronauts from taking part in for-profit research.

There will be up to two short private astronaut missions per year.

Private astronauts who meet the medical and training requirements will be making their dream spaceflight aboard the spacecraft of one of two companies hired by NASA - Elon Musk's SpaceX, which will use its Dragon capsule, and Boeing, which is building a spacecraft called the Starliner.

These companies reportedly will charge a private astronaut around $60 million per flight.

To ensure a competitive market, NASA will reserve five percent of its crew resources and cargo capability, including 90 hours of crew time and 175 kg of cargo launch capability, to private companies.

This move comes simultaneous to NASA's goal of landing the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024.

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