Private astronauts will be able to travel to the International Space Station starting next year, NASA has announced.
The US space agency said the commercial spaceflights will last up to 30 days, and those taken into orbit will perform duties that “fall into approved commercial and marketing activities”.
The estimated cost of a round-trip is $58m (£45,500,000), with each night’s accommodation coming in at about $35,000 (£27,500).
If there is enough demand, NASA said there will be two privately funded trips a year.
The astronauts will travel on a US spacecraft and will have to meet the agency’s strict medical standards.
NASA said a “commercial entity” would develop each mission and “determine crew composition”.
Astronaut Christina Koch, speaking from the space station, said it is an “incredible experience” which has unique value for research, development and technology.
The opportunity for private citizens to travel into orbit is part of a wider opening of the space station to commercial business.
© Getty NASA’s Jeff DeWit, Robyn Gatens and Bill Gerstenmaier announced the news in New York
NASA is aiming to land the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024 and is hoping that US companies will play an “essential role in establishing a sustainable presence”.
Anyone wishing to take advantage must fit the following criteria:
:: They must need the ISS’s microgravity environment to develop something commercially
:: Have a connection to NASA’s mission
:: Be able to support the development of a sustainable low-Earth orbit economy