A new step has been taken in the history of space conquest. After research missions to the celestial body, now it is tourists' turn to land on the moon. NASA will open the doors of its International Space Station (ISS) to individual travelers from 2020.
NASA has just announced the launch of its "missions for private astronauts for a maximum of 30 days" starting next year. The opening of the International Space Station for commercial purposes is thus official. This subject has been under discussion for years in order to reduce annual operating costs of the station. Two excursions will be organized for a dozen passengers each per year to begin.
The lucky ones will be able to purchase a ticket for about fifty thousand dollars, in addition to 35K USD per night for accommodations. They will be able to stay in orbit for up to 30 days, during which time they will be provided with accommodation, food, water and oxygen on board, which is essential for breathing on board. The return trip to the station will be paid separately to one of the two private operators approved by NASA, Boeing and SpaceX, and will take place on board capsules especially equipped for space travel.
Before the trip, people wishing to participate in the excursion must demonstrate good physical fitness through a series of tests to will evaluate them. After that they will be given a pre-travel preparation. Crew members will also receive training, in particular concerning the medical aspect and living conditions aboard the ship and then the space station.
Finally, NASA "will continue research and testing in low Earth orbit to inform its lunar exploration plans, while working with the private sector to test technologies, train astronauts and strengthen the booming space economy," a statement said. Collaboration with the business community is therefore not limited to this project for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), but also extends to space research operations, such as the Artemis lunar mission that will see the first woman walk on the Moon in 2024.
However, lunar sightseeing tours are not new. Last year, the Russian company Energia Rocket and Space Corporation (RSC Energia) had already announced the marketing of trips to the Moon from their Soyuz spacecraft. The average ticket price was estimated at between USD 150 and 180 million. The first passenger, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, is expected to board in 2023, three years after NASA's first excursions announced for 2020. Proof that, more than fifty years after the launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik 1, the race to conquer space is far from over.
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