NASA will allow TOURISTS aboard the International Space Station starting in 2020

A large mass of storm clouds over the Atlantic Ocean near Brazil and the Equator as seen from the ISS

"These missions will be privately funded, dedicated commercial spaceflights" and use spacecraft developed with NASA's Commercial Crew Program, NASA said in a press release on Friday. Two of these short-stay missions will be allowed every year, and the first tourist may go up as early as 2020 using a United States spacecraft by SpaceX or Boeing developed under NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

But, a trip to space won't come cheap - with life support systems and all necessary supplies considered, it will cost an eye-watering $35,000 per night.

The move is part of Nasa's effort to put the first woman and another man on the moon by 2024.

The US space agency has announced that it will be opening its doors for tourism and other business ventures.

NASA says it will be making one station port available for commercial modules.

Friday's announcement marks the first time NASA is allowing private astronauts on board.

The change paves the way for the wealthy to rocket from Earth and spend time aboard the astronaut home and laboratory in space, through trips planned by private enterprise, and for businesses to develop products or shoot film - including adverts - in space.

But the U.S. has paid for and controls most of the modules that make up the orbiter.

The International Space Station photographed by Expedition 56 crew members from a Soyuz spacecraft after undocking, November 4, 2018.

Nasa chief financial officer Jeff DeWit, speaking in NY during the announcement, said: 'Nasa is opening the International Space Station to commercial opportunities and marketing these opportunities as we've never done before'. The goal is to "accelerate a thriving commercial economy in low-Earth orbit".

It said that a private commercial entity would be charged with determining crew composition and ensuring that the private astronauts meet the medical and training requirements for spaceflight. As for business uses, NASA calls out space manufacturing, regenerative medicine and bioengineering as pursuits that would fit well with the ISS environment.

The ISS already hosts some commercial research and development activities, but NASA intends to broaden that scope.

Gatens detailed a five part plan for encouraging commercial activities and expanding the private marketplace in low-Earth orbit.

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