NASA to open International Space Station to private astronauts, commercial companies

The opportunity for everyday citizens to travel to low-Earth orbit and beyond may be closer than you think.

Starting in 2020, NASA will allow private astronauts to spend up to 30 days aboard the International Space Station.

NASA will allow up to two private astronaut missions per year to the ISS via privately funded commercial spaceflights aboard U.S. spacecrafts developed under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, according to a June 7 NASA news release.

Commercial companies developing these missions will ensure private astronauts meet NASA’s medical, training and certification standards for ISS crew members. According to NASA, market studies have identified that private astronaut missions to low-Earth orbit are a "key element" to demonstrate demand and reduce risk for future commercial space destinations, the release reads.

The Johnson Space Center in the Clear Lake area of Houston is responsible for training and communicating with astronauts aboard the ISS.

NASA will also open the ISS to commercial companies to further strengthen its tie to the private sector to private sector to test technology, train astronauts and boost the aerospace economy, according to the release.

"Providing expanded opportunities at the International Space Station to manufacture, market and promote commercial products and services will help catalyze and expand space exploration markets for many businesses," the release reads.

NASA has already worked with 11 different companies to install 14 commercial facilities on the ISS to support research and development projects, but NASA's new initiative is intended to broaden the scope to include manufacturing, production and other commercial activities, according to the release.

NASA's goal is to one day be one of several customers using services from many independent, habitable destinations in low-Earth orbit. Find more information at nasa.gov.
By Jake Magee
Jake Magee has been a print journalist for several years, covering numerous beats including city government, education, business and more. Starting off at a daily newspaper in southern Wisconsin, Magee covered two small cities before being promoted to covering city government in the heart of newspaper's coverage area. He moved to Houston in mid-2018 to be the editor for and launch the Bay Area edition of Community Impact Newspaper.


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