In the years to come, the traditional cliché of tourists who “travel abroad” will likely be adopting an entirely new definition - beginning in 2020, NASA will be opening the doors of the International Space Station for private tourists, private astronauts, and commercial businesses to enjoy. Want to add visiting space, the final frontier, to your bucket list of travel destinations? You better have deep pockets.
Since the ISS first launched in 1998 and when it became inhabitable in 2011, there have been a few “guest” visitors outside of the usual scientific researchers and astronauts. Dennis Tito became the first “space tourist” to go into orbit on a rocket that delivered supplies to the ISS in April, 2011, thanks to a little help from the Russian government and $40 million of his own. Tito describes his experience as extraordinary and he would have happily stayed up there for months.
Though the idea has been entertained since the ISS’s inception (including the 2017 Russian plans to build a luxury hotel and more), this will officially be the first time that NASA has welcomed tourists on the ISS. They aren’t just open for business, they are open for filming movies, filming commercials, commercial product testing and more. NASA Strategic Objective 2.1 directs the Agency to “lay the foundation for America to maintain a constant human presence in low-Earth orbit (LEO) to be enabled by a commercial market.” NASA is excited about this new offering as it is the culmination of decades of work, tests, and experiments to open the door for future opportunities and innovations for mankind.
As exciting as this news is, it may still be a while (if ever) before the average traveler is able to go on this journey - it comes with an expensive price tag. Jeff DeWit, NASA’s Chief Financial Officer says that a round trip ticket is estimated to cost around $58 million total, with accommodations at around $35,000 per night. Unless you are filthy rich, doesn’t seem like space travel will be taking any of your PTO days.
Since this announcement, NASA has received criticism that it is sacrificing true scientific research and discoveries, the legacy of the agency and ISS, in favor commercialism and selling “space experiences” to the highest bidder. While there is no denying that NASA is on the verge of shifting the paradigm of tourism as we know it, it begs the question, is personal vacationing into space necessary? We understand the need to continue scientific discovery and exploration, but it’s not like they have a gift shop and you’ll want to take the family. Space is vast and void of tourist destinations in the conventional sense (as far as we know), so is the enormous cost and risk worth the reward?
There will always be adventurers and trailblazers among us, ready to discover the secrets of the next front and make landmark discoveries for mankind. For those elite one or two individuals per year (with $58 million to spend) that NASA will invite to the ISS, we hope you enjoy your trip! For the rest of us, looks we’ll only get to enjoy space travel thanks to the help of rovers and drones.
We can't help fund your trip to space, but If you’d like to find out more on II-VI Marlow or the EverGen PowerStrap Generator, please contact Anthony Bianchini, Director of Sales and Marketing.