International Space Station open for private business, astronauts

NASA setting aside 5% of ISS resources for commercial ventures

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

International Space Station (Image: NASA)

The International Space Station will be open to more private astronauts and commercial businesses, NASA announced Friday at Nasdaq in New York.

Currently, more than 50 companies conduct commercial research and development on the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory but NASA said in an effort to "broaden the scope of commercial activity on the space station" it is opening up more time and space on the orbiting laboratory outside of the ISS National Lab mandate, which is limited to research and development.

NASA's Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWit said they are setting aside 5 percent of the space station's resources for commercial business and marketing, including 90 hours of crew time and 386 pounds of cargo launch capability.

$35,000 per night space stay

The U.S. space agency said that it will open the International Space Station to private astronauts, with the first visit as early as next year.

The round-trip ticket will cost an estimated $58 million. And accommodations aboard the orbiting outpost will run about $35,000 per night, for trips of up to 30 days long.

The space agency says only two visitors per year will be allowed, for now. Private astronauts will have to meet the same medical standards and training and certification procedures as regular crew members.

How to do business on the space station

However, not just any private company or citizen will be able to buy time and space on the ISS and NASA said it will limit the amount provided to any one company.

[READ: International Space Station commercial use policy | How to get your commercial business on ISS ]

The company must need the unique microgravity environment on the space station "to enable manufacturing, production or development of a commercial application, have a connection to NASA’s mission or support the development of a sustainable low-Earth orbit economy."

According to the space station commercial use policy, organizations wishing to conduct business on the space station must be at least 50% percent owned by U.S. nationals.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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