NASA May Be Joining the Space Tourism Game With Tickets to ISS

With companies like Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic selling pricey seats aboard their spacecrafts for the first wave of tourist launches into space, it was only a matter of time before the originators considered throwing their hat in the ring. The Washington Post reports that NASA is flirting with the idea of offering non-astronauts the opportunity to be throttled into space for a fee. The revenue from the trips to the International Space Station would help fund NASA’s operations, as the White House moves to end direct funding for the artificial satellite by 2025.

“Just like in the early days of aviation with barnstorming, these initial activities will help build the infrastructure and the foundation that can lead to future innovations that, frankly, we cannot imagine right now,” said Maxar Technologies’ VP of regulatory and policy, Michael Gold. A proposal to start the tourist program is in its early stages and would have to be approved by an advisory council before heading to NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine for a final signature. NASA doesn’t have the same cache with the American people that it did decades ago during the Space Race and Apollo missions. According to Christian Davenport of The Washington Post, the agency hopes to “better insert itself into the public consciousness by working with the private sector.”

To get their name out there, the agency is also considering altering the rules concerning endorsements. On Friday, Bridenstine’s advisory committee approved a recommendation that would allow the agency to engage in “space-based promotional activities” to “enhance NASA’s public profile and encourage youth to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.” It seems like a shift has already been happening in the some commercial markets, with NASA recently collaborating with Vans and other apparel/footwear companies on special collections. It’s unclear how far the agency plans to take this “we’re still cool” tour, but if it works to keep their important research and missions going, we can’t knock it.

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