Enlarge / The forward end
of the International Space Station is pictured showing portions of
five modules. From right to left is a portion of the U.S. Destiny
laboratory module linking forward to the Harmony module. Attached
to the port side of Harmony (left foreground) is the Kibo
laboratory module from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
(JAXA) with its logistics module berthed on top. On Harmony’s
starboard side (center background) is the Columbus laboratory
module from ESA (European Space Agency). (credit: NASA)
On Thursday morning, NASA held a press conference to announce
that the International Space Station is now open for business.
Previously, commercial organizations have only been able to use the
ISS for research purposes; now NASA is open to letting them make a
profit in low Earth orbit (LEO). “We’re marketing these
opportunities as we’ve never done before,” said NASA’s Chief
Financial Officer Jeff DeWitt earlier today.
For starters, the space agency
issued a new directive that allows commercial manufacturing and
production to occur on the ISS, as well as marketing activities.
It’s not quite “anything goes,” though—approved activities have
to have a link to NASA’s mission, stimulate the development of a
LEO economy, or actually require a zero-G environment. NASA has
a price list for the ISS, and it’s setting aside five percent
of the station’s annual resources (including astronaut time and
cargo mass) for commercial use.
Be prepared to pay to reach LEO. The cheapest cargo option is
$3,000/kg to get it there, then an additional $3,000/kg to dispose
of it in the trash. If you want it back again, that’ll be a
$6,000/kg return fee, although round trip prices per kg are more
expensive if you need power or life support on the way home.
Source: FS – All – Science – News
NASA will allow private astronauts on the ISS for ,250-,500 a day