The agency will not coordinate the trips directly but plans to work with outside firms, it said on Friday. The nightly price for companies to host visitors in the facility is $35,000 alone. Costs will be revisited every six months.
NASA is hoping that, by opening up the station to commercial travel, it can expand the market for space exploration while it aims to return humans to the Moon by 2024.
“The agency’s ultimate goal in low-Earth orbit is to partner with industry to achieve a strong ecosystem in which NASA is one of many customers purchasing services and capabilities at lower cost,” it said in a statement.
President Trump, however, is not on board with NASA’s plans, tweeting that the agency shouldn’t be talking about the moon and should “be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars.”
As record amounts of outside investment pour into the U.S. space industry, companies like SpaceX are making the promise of cheaper commercial travel to the so-called “final frontier” more attainable.
And by funding riskier, but cheaper endeavors, NASA hopes to free itself up to solve the more complex problems, like deep space travel.
“Right now, there’s not a commercial marketplace at the moon, there’s not a commercial marketplace at Mars,” administrator Jim Bridenstine previously told Fox Business.
“If we can do the things we need to do in low-Earth orbit by being a customer, then we can focus on developing capability at the moon, retiring risk at the moon… and then commercializing that activity while we then go on to Mars,” he added.