NASA ups price of a private stay aboard the ISS to reflect true expense of keeping tourists alive in space

Should cover the cost of the air leaking out of the Russian segment


Fancy a stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS)? It is about to get a lot pricier for future private astronaut missions.

NASA last published its commercial pricing policy in 2019, and price tags included $22,500 per person per day for supplies such as food, air and exercise equipment. Life support (and using the toilet) came in at $11,500.

The agency has now said that the policy "did not reflect full reimbursement for the value of NASA resources", it was only there to stimulate the market and was planned to be "adjusted".

In some cases, that adjustment has been to the tune of several million dollars.

While there is no cost for what NASA calls "ISS Baseline Capabilities" (such as life support), pre-staging food and crew provisions using NASA vehicles will come in at anywhere from $88,000 to $164,000 per person per day. The rate for NASA ISS crew time has been set at $130,000 per hour.

The really big ticket items are, however, integration and the base cost of the ISS crew support. The former, which covers NASA integration, comes in at $4.8m per mission. The latter, for supporting visiting vehicles and on-orbit familiarisation for private astronauts, will cost $5.2m per mission.

"Due to the complexity of private astronaut missions and differing mission concepts, reimbursable values for these missions may vary," NASA added.

The update should not affect the first entirely private crew to the ISS, Axiom Space's AX-1. The mission is due for launch in early 2022 aboard a chartered Crew Dragon and consists of an Axiom professional astronaut and three private customers. Subsequent missions will require discussion, and NASA noted that "detailed pricing will be negotiated at time of mission award and contract or agreement finalization."

Exactly how many of these missions might happen is open for debate. NASA expects no more than two short-duration (less than 30 days) missions with private astronauts per year and funding for the ISS is due to run through at least 2024. Axiom Space has claimed its own private space station will be operational by then.

In the meantime, NASA's update is reminder that the cute #DemocratizationofSpace hashtags doing the rounds only really apply to those with a good few million dollars to throw around. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • NASA's Psyche mission: 2022 launch is off after software arrives late
    Launch window slides into 2023 or 2024 for asteroid-probing project

    Sadly for NASA's mission to take samples from the asteroid Psyche, software problems mean the spacecraft is going to miss its 2022 launch window.

    The US space agency made the announcement on Friday: "Due to the late delivery of the spacecraft's flight software and testing equipment, NASA does not have sufficient time to complete the testing needed ahead of its remaining launch period this year, which ends on October 11."

    While it appears the software and testbeds are now working, there just isn't enough time to get everything done before a SpaceX Falcon Heavy sends the spacecraft to study a metallic-rich asteroid of the same name.

    Continue reading
  • NASA wants nuclear reactor on the Moon by 2030
    Space boffins task engineers with creating 40kW lunar fission plant that can operate for ten years

    NASA has chosen the three companies it will fund to develop a nuclear fission reactor ready to test on the Moon by the end of the decade.

    This power plant is set to be a vital component of Artemis, the American space agency's most ambitious human spaceflight mission to date. This is a large-scale project to put the first woman and first person of color on the Moon, and establish a long-term presence on Earth's natural satellite.

    NASA envisions [PDF] astronauts living in a lunar base camp, bombing around in rovers, and using it as a launchpad to explore further out into the Solar System. In order for this to happen, it'll need to figure out how to generate a decent amount of power somehow.

    Continue reading
  • NASA delays SLS rollback due to concerns over rocky path to launchpad
    The road to the Moon is paved with... river rock?

    NASA's Moon rocket is to trundle back into its shed today after a delay caused by concerns over the crawlerway.

    The massive transporter used to move the Space Launch System between Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and launchpad requires a level pathway and teams have been working on the inclined pathway leading to the launchpad where the rocket currently resides to ensure there is an even distribution of rocks to support the mobile launcher and rocket.

    The latest wet dress rehearsal was completed on June 20 after engineers "masked" data from sensors that would have called a halt to proceedings. Once back in the VAB, engineers plan to replace a seal on the quick disconnect of the tail service mast umbilical. The stack will then roll back to the launchpad for what NASA fervently hopes is the last time before a long hoped-for launch in late August.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022