A couple of days ago, the NASA aerospace agency convened a press conference at which it announced that it was making the International Space Station completely open for business. Previously, commercial organizations were allowed to use the ISS exclusively for scientific purposes, for example, for conducting various research experiments. Now the agency has allowed private business to engage in profitable business in low earth orbit.
What are the rules of flights on the ISS for private companies?
To support commercial activity on the ISS, the agency intends to allocate annually up to 5 percent of the budget, which it spends on servicing the station (and this amounts to about 3-4 billion dollars per year). Before manned missions to the ISS, private NASA will train like real astronauts. It should also be clarified that NASA is not going to let anyone into the station and when it got, so it announced a list of rules and restrictions.
Thus, during the year, only 175 kilograms of commercial cargo will be allowed to the station, while only 90 hours of station working time will be allocated for commercial activity onboard the ISS. In addition, the implementation of private manned missions to the station will be allowed only twice a year, and the duration of the presence of private owners on board within these missions should not exceed 30 days. According to the program of private flights to the ISS, there will be able to visit up to 12 people per year.
How much is a day stay on the ISS?
The US space agency also published a price list that lists prices for various commercial activities aboard the orbital station. Thus, in the framework of unmanned missions to the ISS, the cost of delivering a kilogram of cargo into orbit will be $ 3,000. Another $ 3,000 per kilogram will have to be paid to dispose of it. If the client wants to return the cargo back to Earth, it will cost an additional 6000 dollars per kilogram.
In the framework of manned missions prices will be much higher. For example, the cost of using the toilet and life support systems by one person per day will cost $ 11,250. $ 22,500 per day will have to be paid for things necessary for life on the ISS, such as food, water, air, medical drugs, and so on. Even electricity will have to be paid – $ 42 per 1 kWh. According to NASA CFO Jeff DeWitt, a total of one day onboard the ISS for one person will cost approximately $ 35,000, that is, over a million dollars per person for a 30-day visit.
It should also be added that the price list does not include the cost of the space launch service for these unmanned and manned missions. In this matter, businesses will have to negotiate with companies such as SpaceX and Boeing, since only private American space companies will potentially have the ability to deliver people to the ISS. However, the manned spacecraft they are developing is not yet ready.
Fly to the ISS can be on the "Union". It will cost more than 80 million dollars for a place – Roscosmos exposes this price to NASA. But Americans soon expect to reduce the cost of flights: spaceX onboard the SpaceST CST-100 Starliner from Boeing and Crew Dragon of the company will cost “only” $ 58 million (although it is not known whether the same price will remain for private astronauts).
Commercial module on the ISS
NASA wants private companies to start developing technologies for the construction of space housing on the ISS, and therefore opens up access to the front docking node of the Harmony module for commercial organizations. Back in 2017, it was reported that for private space missions they are going to use the connecting gateway of the Tranquility module, but this was exclusively for cargo missions.
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