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NASA: Space Station Open For Commercial Business

The International Space Station. Photo: NASA

The International Space Station is open for business. NASA announced Friday private companies will be able to use the orbiting outpost — and even send up their own astronauts.

NASA will continue its research on the station but says turning it over to commercial operators will allow the space agency to focus on other missions, like sending humans back to the moon.

It’s the first step toward a space-based economy in low-Earth orbit. “This is the beginning of us actively starting an open dialogue with industry to figure out how we can open up space to the commercial activities where revenue can be generated for private sector companies,” said NASA’s Bill Gerstenmaier.

Private astronauts will be able to stay on the station for up to 30 days, but the cost will be high.

“It will be roughly about $35,000 a night per astronaut,” said NASA CFO Jeff DeWitt. “That won’t come with any Hilton or Marriott points.”

Any private astronaut will have to launch to the station with one of NASA’s commercial partners — SpaceX or Boeing — at an additional cost. The agency is working with the commercial partners to ferry its own astronauts to the station at a cost of about $58 million per seat.

The change applies only to the U.S. portion of the ISS and ends a long-standing prohibition of commercial activity. Any commercial venture will have to meet NASA guidelines.

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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Are We There Yet?' Host

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration. Brendan is a native Floridian, born and raised in Broward County. He moved to ... Read Full Bio »