Private individuals can now visit the International Space Station (ISS) for 10 days of stay in orbit at a total cost of $55 million. The opportunity is being provided by Axiom Space and the space travel will be aboard SpaceX’s capsule. The trip could be as early as next year or even 2022 and it will be the first travel to the ISS that will not involve government space agencies such as NASA.

According to Axiom Space, only three people will be allowed to make the flight to space for a 10-day out-of-the-world experience at the ISS. Axiom’s president and chief executive officer is Michael T. Suffredini, a former NASA program manager for the ISS between 2005 and 2015. He retired from NASA after a 10-year stint and started Axiom Space to build spacecraft and operate and space flights.

Suffredini disclosed that his company has signed an agreement with SpaceX to take humans to orbit, and has convinced NASA that Axiom could take people to space and back on a private basis. Meanwhile, SpaceX constructed its Crew Dragon capsule to not only fly NASA astronauts to the ISS but to also fly private individuals to space outside of NASA’s well-known space program.

While Axiom Space is trying to be the first private company to fly people to space using Elon Musk’s spaceflight technologies, another company known as Space Adventures is also negotiating with SpaceX to use its Crew Dragon capsule to transport people to space for a 5-day trip. Chairman of Space Adventures, Eric C. Anderson, said the trip could happen between 2011 and 2022.

He added that the trip might be planned to coincide with the 60th anniversary of John Glenn’s February 20, 1962 circle around the Earth. He hinted that the price for the trip will be between $30 million to $40 million.

Conversely, it is not clear if the space tourists will be able to taste or eat from crops grown in space since scientists have revealed that lettuce grown in space tastes almost the same as those grown on Earth. NASA’s Gioia Massa and Christina Khodadad among other colleagues examined several batches of lettuce cultivated in space between 2014 and 2016 and found they taste nearly the same as those grown in our world.

Scientists are experimenting with growing plants at the ISS because they hope to grow food for human civilization in space.

“Right now we cannot guarantee that we will have a diet to meet the needs of the crew for these long, deep space missions, so one potential solution will be to supplement the packaged diet with fresh produce,” they said. “This [space-grown lettuce] will provide additional vitamins and other nutrients, flavors, textures, and variety to the packaged diet. In the long term, if we ever want to have space colonization, growth of crops will be crucial for establishing any level of sustainability and self-sufficiency.”

Source: The New York Times