Since NASA's aerospace agency is shifting its work toward active renewal of the lunar space research program, in which private space companies will also be directly involved, the US space agency has decided to open access to the International Space Station for commercial business, reports Space.com.
From now on, private companies can apply for short-term commercial manned missions to the ISS to conduct their commercial operations related to the production and promotion of their goods.
Despite the fact that private astronauts will not be assigned directly to the staff of NASA itself, before sending them to the ISS, they will be required to go through extensive training for space flights at the agency’s training grounds. The agency notes that SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Boston CST-100 Starliner spacecraft will be used for commercial missions.
What will happen to the ISS in the future?
According to the current plans of the US agency, it is set to complete support for the International Space Station project by 2024. That same year, NASA astronauts should return to the moon. With or without support from NASA, the International Space Station has been in Earth orbit for almost 20 years. Her work time in any case smoothly comes to an end.
NASA does not want to simply abandon the aging space laboratory, to the construction and support of which many billions of dollars were invested (the agency spends 3-4 billion dollars annually on just one service of the ISS), so the department decided to transfer it to commercial sector the possibility of carrying on its board their commercial tasks. NASA believes that in this way it will be possible to stimulate a business to develop a space economy. In addition, this will allow companies that will take part in the preparation of lunar manned missions to provide a place that they can use to demonstrate the technologies they have developed for these manned missions.
"The commercialization of the ISS will allow the agency to concentrate resources on preparing the landing of a man and a woman on the moon by 2024," said NASA Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeVit at a press conference.
After 2024, NASA plans to transfer the management of the ISS American segment into the hands of its international partners, but the agency, at least for now, does not intend to completely abandon the use of the station. According to DeVita, most likely, the department itself will take the role of one of the clients who are currently provided with the services of using the ISS as a test platform for new technologies. But in any case, this will save a huge pile of money.
Currently, more than 50 different companies have already used or continue to use the services of the ISS to conduct various scientific and technological research. Thanks to the new NASA policy on the ISS, the range of available commercial services will expand significantly.
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