WASHINGTON – NASA announced on June 11 that the International Space Station is requesting proposals for two private astronaut missions that will fly between the fall of 2022 and the end of 2023.
NASA said it is seeking proposals from those who want to fly the company space station private astronauts. One mission will begin between the fall of 2022 and the middle of 2023, the second will take place in the second half of 2023
NASA’s low-Earth orbital commercialization policy, released two years ago, allows two private astronaut missions a year on the station for short notice. NASA says it is requesting two missions offering the opportunity to be involved up to four astronauts each, staying at the station for no more than 14 days.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft approaches the International Space Station to dock during a port-relocation maneuver April 5. Credit: NASA TV
Companies seeking two opportunities can submit proposals to those who offer proposals to explain how their missions fit into NASA’s Leo commercialization strategy and those who fly and how to do so.
The first private astronaut mission under the policy is the X-1 mission of Universal Space, a Space X crew dragon spacecraft scheduled for 2022 at dawn. It will carry three paying customers and former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Allegria. The overall mission will last 10 days, including seven or eight days dock at the ISS.
However, the omniscient space master has admitted that they will have to compete for those future opportunities for private space missions. Demand for private astronaut missions now exceeds the two opportunities available each year, NASA officials said in a May briefing where they announced the finalization of the deal with the astronauts for the X-1 purpose. The “traffic model” of vehicle inspections at the station prevents NASA from supporting more private astronaut missions.
“We’re ready to fly on a scale about twice a year, but like everyone else we have to compete for opportunities,” Mike Suffredini, president of the Universal Space and chief executive, said at the briefing.
It is not clear who will compete for the mission anymore. Space Adventure has a deal with SpaceX for a crew dragon flight that will go to the ISS but instead be in a high orbit as a standalone
Phil McAlister, director of commercial space development at NASA headquarters, said in an agency statement that interest in private astronaut missions was another sign of a “renaissance” in human space made possible by commercial crew vehicles. “The more people fly out of space and do more things in their space time, the less it reflects the attraction of even more people to do more work in Earth orbit and the growing market we envisioned when we started the commercial crew program 10 years ago.”