Science/Tech

NASA Opens International Space Station For Commercial Business

As the U.S. government plans to build a new space station that would orbit around the Moon for future lunar and deep space explorations, NASA is giving the existing International Space Station a new purpose. ISS is now open for more commercial projects. 

Officials from the space agency made the announcement at a recent news conference at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York City. The ISS can now host projects led by private companies, including for-profit activities, like manufacturing, marketing and advertising outside of Earth, Space.com reported

NASA is also offering private astronauts the same training it provides to its personnel before their mission to the ISS. Companies can use SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner to bring their commercial crew to the space station. 

Opening the ISS for commercial use "will enable NASA to focus resources to land the next man and the first woman on the moon by 2024," Jeff DeWit, chief financial officer of NASA, told reporters at the conference. 

The Future of the ISS

As NASA aims to bring back humans to the Moon over the next five years, the agency also plans to end its support for the ISS in mid-2020s. The decision comes as the ISS is nearing the end of its operational life. 

To continue to utilize the space station, the space agency has turned to the private sector. In the future, commercial and international partners of NASA will manage the facility. 

Officials hope private companies can use the ISS to demonstrate technologies they intend to offer for the 2024 lunar landing. But NASA is not totally abandoning the facility since it plans to purchase services at the ISS for some tech development efforts. 

To date, over 50 companies use the ISS for research and development projects. Through the space station’s commercialization, commercial entities can expand the scope of their activities to include marketing, advertising and other for-profit activities, according to Robyn Gatens, NASA's deputy director for the ISS program. 

Are you interested in sending projects to the ISS for your business? Here is NASA’s guidelines for private companies hoping to apply to launch short-duration commercial crew missions. 

ISS In cooperation with our partners, the International Space Station will be extended likely to 2020 or beyond enabling this vital orbiting laboratory to reach its full potential. NASA.gov

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