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Ep. 37, Page 20
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Comic 2879 - Ep. 37, Page 20

11th Jun 2019, 9:37 PM in Episode 37 :: Save My Place | Load My Place
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Author Notes:

smbhax 11th Jun 2019, 9:37 PM edit delete
In the past week or so, the BBC and The New York Times, among others, had articles covering NASA's announcement that they'll be opening the International Space Station (presumably, technically just the American section) up to space tourists: $35,000 a night for up to two tourists—with something like two 30-day slots available per year—although total feels, including lift fees to SpaceX and Boeing—are estimated to amount to a total of about $50 million per passenger.

NASA new-ish administrator, who does not have a science background, has touted this about-face on allowing tourism as a way to help fund NASA's push to get back to the Moon and Mars, but the fees they're getting out of the deal would be a tiny, tiny drop in those huge buckets, and don't even cover the costs of running the ISS. So, it's basically just sacrificing unique scientific research opportunities to give the hyper-wealthy a little space jaunt.

Granted, it will give a few companies some space business and experience, but again it's kind of a drop in the bucket. To me it seems like a poor, short-sighted decision. Of course, the bigger decision is the White House's declaration that they want to stop US government funding of the ISS by 2025, at which point it would be turned over to 100% commercial use. The station's life span is a matter of debate in the US and Russia, the two countries responsible for placing the station's sections in orbit; at various stages the whole station was supposed to be scrapped at some point in the 2020s, possibly with some modules going to a new station, although Russia is currently thinking of possible uses for the ISS through 2028, and a US House of Representatives committee is currently considering a Senate bill that would extend station operations to 2030.

Speaking of Russia, they're the only ones who've run tourism to the ISS before—in the earlier 2000s, seven tourists went to the station under their program, which was managed by a US company—but Russian soon put a stop to it as they decided they needed the berths for actual cosmonauts.