Space Station: no tourists yet, but...

 

NASA is opening the International Space Station to business proposals from companies that want to place an astronaut there for commercial work, a move that's given a lot of would-be space tourist hope that it will eventually be possible to spend a vacation there.

Of course, that's not what NASA has in mind; it envisages more and more of the station's facilities—and costs—being covered by commercial use, leaving NASA to pay only for what it uses. The agency does insist that any projects be connected to its mission and must stimulate the low-Earth orbit economy, or benefit from the unique environment of microgravity. Well, who's to say that a space hotel wouldn't benefit from that?

But seriously, the bar is high as NASA accepts proposals starting today. Even if a project is selected, there's the matter of training the astronaut. That's a two-year training program that requires, among other things, learning Russian, having a degree in science or math, and either having three years experience in a professional field or being a pilot.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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