Late last week, NASA made it official: The International Space Station (ISS) is now open for business, and space tourism will be a part of the space station’s mission:
— NASA (@NASA) June 8, 2019
In a press release sent out on Friday, NASA announced:
“NASA is opening the International Space Station for commercial business so U.S. industry innovation and ingenuity can accelerate a thriving commercial economy in low-Earth orbit.
“This effort is intended to broaden the scope of commercial activity on the space station beyond the ISS National Lab mandate, which is limited to research and development. A new NASA directive will enable commercial manufacturing and production and allow both NASA and private astronauts to conduct new commercial activities aboard the orbiting laboratory. The directive also sets prices for industry use of U.S. government resources on the space station for commercial and marketing activities.”
But as Futurism.com notes, if you were hoping to pay a visit to to the ISS, you’d better start saving right now:
“Tickets to the ISS won’t come cheap. NASA will be charging private companies about $35,000 a night for use of the station’s facilities, according to the New York Times. And that’s not including what the companies will charge individuals for transportation to and from the Space Station.”
The new plan to allow commercial interests and private astronauts to use the space station is just the latest attempt by the Trump administration to privatize the ISS, the BBC reports:
“NASA’s announcement on Friday is part of a move towards full privatisation of the ISS. US President Donald Trump published a budget last year which called for the station to be defunded by the government by 2025.
The space agency recently announced that it planned to return to the moon by 2024, taking the first woman there and the first person in decades.”
Not everyone is delighted to see the move from NASA. Konstantin Kakaes writes in Vox that a better idea might be to kill the ISS altogether, as it has never actually lived up to its hype or fulfilled its true mission, which was first announced by former President Ronald Reagan in his 1984 State of the Union address. Reagan instructed:
“‘NASA to develop a permanently manned space station and to do it within a decade.’ The station would, he said, produce ‘leaps in our research in science, communications, in metals, and in lifesaving medicines which could be manufactured only in space.'”
35 years later, there have been virtually no dramatic leaps in any of the areas enumerated by Reagan, Kakaes maintains:
“The most egregious example of mediocre science on the ISS might be an experiment conducted by Malaysia’s first astronaut to see how microgravity affects the ‘flavor, taste, texture, freshness, spice, sweetness and general acceptability’ of Malaysian food. NASA would surely claim that its researchers are more serious-minded than their Malaysian counterpart, whom it dismissed as a tourist, but the thin scientific veneer on his trip is revealing.
The flavor, taste, texture, etc. of Malaysian food? Really? At that rate, perhaps we’d be better served converting the ISS to a celestial bouncy castle and renting it out for birthday parties.
Featured Image Via NASA