NASA is opening the International Space Station for private travel and commercial businesses as soon as next year. The effort is meant to expand the U.S. industry's innovation and technology while creating a thriving commercial economy within the Earth's orbit.
The move comes as the agency is intensifying efforts to land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024, while also having American companies establish a sustainable space presence.
The five-part near-term plan will continue lunar exploration research, while private sectors test technologies, train astronauts and strengthen the space economy. The joint efforts also hope to create affordable manufacturing, marketing and promotion opportunities for ISS commercial products and services that will catalyze space exploration.
NASA’s plan will also allow 30-day private astronaut missions to the space station starting as early as 2020. Each night aboard the ISS will cost travelers a cool $35,000, while still having to meet NASA’s strict medical standards, training and certifications before visiting.
More than 50 companies are already yielding great promise while conducting commercial research on the space station via the ISS's U.S. National Laboratory. Nasa reports the first space station port for commercial activities is already underway.