NASA To Allow You To Visit The ISS From As Low As $35,000 Per Night From 2020

NASA has released some exciting news this Friday with a change in policy now allowing private space tourists to holiday at the Internation Space Station. What surprises many is the eye-brow-raisingly low price that was widely reported - of only $35,000 USD per night.

To stress how good of a deal this is, the The Raj Palace Hotel in Jaipur is around $43,000 per night, the Four Seasons Hotel New York is around $45,000 per night, and the Hotel President Wilson in Geneva is around $65,000 per night- for their best rooms. As the million are or billionaire that you are, a night at the International Space Station is looking like the bargain of the millenia! Just imagine all the great stories you can tell your friends, and the enjoyable smiles of adventure that await you.

But even for the working professional, at a price point in the low 5 figures, let's face it - this price tag is a very achievable savings goal. Perhaps scale down on your dream car for a while, or buy a slightly more affordable home, and you're half way to the ISS already.

Well... it's not quite as easy as booking a night in a hotel penthouse, is it? There must be some conditions, training, extra expenses, and insider favouring as prerequisites for this trip, right? Well - yes, yes, yes and lastly, yes - but still, let's see how close we can get you to outer space.

"We are so excited to be part of NASA as our home and laboratory in space {The Internation Space Station} transitions into being accessible to expanded commercial and marketing opportunities, as well as to private astronauts..."

Says Christina Koch from a video filmed in the ISS. She continues...

"Enabling a vibrant economy in low Earth orbit has always been a driving element of the space program, and will make space more accessible to all Americans ..."

Not us Australians too?

"Transition to this new model of business is an important step to enable NASA to move full speed ahead toward our goal of landing the first woman, and the next man, on the Moon..."

NASA has previously announced it plans to land the first woman on the Moon in 2024.

Myself, for one, entirely agree with Christina on this last point. How much technological progress have we made in areas such as smartphones, computing, oil extraction and medical treatments in the last decade - and one thing that all of these industries have in common is that there is serious money to made from any sort of utilitarian innovation. Right now, space exploration is being funded mostly by human curiosity and taxes - but I can only imagine that our progress into manned space flight will increase exponentially if we can successfuly manage to stimulate an economic motivation. As of today, we have had only app. 540 people in space - but we have launched app. 8100 satellites to space. Sure, an aspect of this is because it is much less dangerous to send a satellite into orbit than a living, breathing human being - but a large factor is also that satellites make companies big, big money. It is interesting to note the cost associated with launching a man or woman to the ISS and launching an orbital satellite are actually quite similar.

And in our current political climate, it seems like NASA may not have much choice in moving towards generating its own income. In President Donald Trump's budget last year, he called for a total withdrawal of government funding to the ISS by 2025. I personally don't agree with this proposal, and I don't think that this idea with actually materialise, but NASA's leaders may indeed have to spend a lot more time thinking about how they are going to generate an income for itself in the future.

In regards to your visit as a self-funded astronaut, the plan is for NASA to open up one of the ISS's ports and make it available to a private company to attach its own module - if this module still needs to be designed, created, and proven financially feasible before the first tourist arrives, I can see the actual day of boots in the air being delayed some years past 2020. But I would be happy to be proven wrong!

So the first condition that makes somewhat tricky to organise around your busy schedule is that there will only be at most two tourist-astronaut trips every year. The good news is that the trip will last for up to 30 days. The bad news is that as you will most likely be travelling in a group, and you won't have that much say in how long the trip will be, and the $35,000 per night may balloon to well over half a million dollars by the end of the trip. Ok, so this isn't a great start to realising the dream of space travel for the average professional. But let's keep going, maybe you can get a few more people in your situation and organise a three day trip, the funding of which you can still easily achieve if you, for instance, lay off the kids for a few more years and take out a smaller mortgage.

The next hurdle is 'making the team,' so to speak. NASA will be outsourcing the vetting process to two private companies you undoubted have heard of - SpaceX and Boeing. So whether you would prefer to stay with a carrier you have already used and trust with Boeing's Starliner, or you would like to enter space with super genius Elon Musk's Dragon Capsule - you will be a very satisfied customer. How big 'the team' per launch will be is undecided as of yet, and you will be required to be in a physically adequate condition. The training and physical exams are said to be quite rigorousness, and you may want to start cleaning up your diet some time soon...

But before you start your in-home training - this now seems to be where your dreams of space travel rubs face against the hard asphalt of reality. These two companies will be asking for a launch and return fee. How much? Well... it makes the price of a night at the ISS look like chicken feed to be honest. Coming to this stage of the article, we realise that the $35,000 per night is actually a totally misleading sales pitch! The price for a taxi fare to the ISS will most likely be close to sixty million dollars, which is around what NASA is currently paying to get an astronaut to the ISS. This figure of $35,000 per night does rather now seem like advertising the price of a movie as $3 per seat, but entry is an extra $500.

Ok, so 2020 may not be the people's year of space travel - not quite yet. But still, let us reward the billionaires who actually go on such a trip with emotionally positive reinforcement, and hopefully their equally affluent buddies will follow suit - every private trip which successfully turns a profit will drive competition, and engineers all over the world will be looking much more closely for ways to shave another million off the launch fees. Maybe 2040 is a more realistic date for you and me to have our turn?

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