The International Space Station Will Start Accepting Visitors … For $58 Million

iStock/forplayday
iStock/forplayday

If you've ever wanted to visit the International Space Station, your chance is coming soon—assuming you have a few million set aside. Recently, NASA announced that this orbiting outpost will be open to private citizens starting in 2020.

However, it won't be cheap. According to The Denver Post, each trip could last up to 30 days, and NASA estimates the cost of a round trip at $58 million, as well as an additional $35,000 charge per night. And, it's not just for kicks—you need to have a mission of your own. The space agency is allowing companies that want to conduct commercial or marketing work to send employees to the ISS as long as they meet one of the three requirements:

  • require the unique microgravity environment to enable manufacturing, production, or development of a commercial application;
  • have a connection to NASA's mission; or
  • support the development of a sustainable low-Earth orbit economy

The space station had a visitor back in 2001—Californian businessman Dennis Titobecame history's first space tourist when he spent a week aboard the ISS with two Russian cosmonauts who took him out there on a Russian spacecraft—but this would be a first for NASA. The agency was opposed to training and flying with Tito back in 2001; at the time, NASA administrator Daniel Goldin said, "Space is dangerous. It's not a joyride. Space is not about egos."

Now, NASA is ready to open the shuttle doors to private citizens. In addition to U.S. citizens, those from other countries are eligible to travel as long as they fly on a U.S.-operated rocket. These lucky private astronauts will have to go through the same medical checks, physical training, and certification procedures as crew members before traveling—a process that could take up to two years.

Along with this exciting news, NASA has bigger plans in mind. They are considering the possibility of a private sector company eventually taking control of the station and paying for its expensive upkeep. NASA has yet to announce when this transition would take place, but said in a statement that the "ultimate goal in low-Earth orbit is to partner with industry to achieve a strong ecosystem in which NASA is one of many customers purchasing services and capabilities at lower cost."

In addition, they hope that the revenue will assist in the operational costs for NASA's Artemis program, which is focused on sending astronauts—including the first woman—to the Moon by 2024.

[h/t The Denver Post]

This Cool T-Shirt Shows Every Object Brought on the Apollo 11 Mission

Fringe Focus
Fringe Focus

NASA launched the Apollo 11 mission on July 16, 1969, ending the space race and beginning a new era of international space exploration. Just in time for the mission's 50th anniversary this year, Fringe Focus is selling a t-shirt that displays every item the Apollo 11 astronauts brought with them to the Moon.

The design, by artist Rob Loukotka, features some of the iconic objects from the mission, such as a space suit and helmet, as well as the cargo that never made it to primetime. Detailed illustrations of freeze-dried meals, toiletries, and maintenance kits are included on the shirt. The artist looked at 200 objects and chose to represent some similar items with one drawing, ending up with 69 pictures in total.

The unisex shirt is made from lightweight cotton, and comes in seven sizes ranging from small to 4XL. It's available in black heather or heather midnight navy for $29.

If you really like the design, the artwork is available in other forms. The same illustration has also been made into poster with captions indicating which pictures represent multiple items of a similar nature.

You'll Be Able to See Jupiter's Moons With a Pair of Binoculars Next Week

iStock/inhauscreative
iStock/inhauscreative

Jupiter can be observed in the night sky without a telescope for much of the year. If you don't often gaze at the largest planet in our solar system when the Sun goes down, you should make a point to next week: That's the best time to see Jupiter in 2019, as Newsweek reports.

On Monday, June 10, the planet will reach its brightest state of the year when viewed from Earth. It will appear above the horizon around twilight and remain clearly visible in the sky for the rest of the night. The celestial treat is the result of something called opposition. This happens when the Earth falls directly between the Sun and Jupiter, creating optimal conditions for the gas giant to shine brightly in the night sky.

Jupiter is also exceptionally close to us this time of year. On Wednesday, June 12, it will be just 398 million away—the shortest distance between Jupiter and Earth we'll see in all of 2019.

These ideal conditions will also make Jupiter's satellites more visible than they normally are. Though the planet itself can be seen with the naked eye, a small telescope or binoculars could enable you to spot one of Jupiter's four largest moons: Ganymede, Europa, Callisto, or Io. The planet's signature cloud stripes may also be visible with viewing aids.

Jupiter's opposition isn't the only sky-gazing event to look forward to as the months get warmer: On July 2, 2019, the first total solar eclipse in two years will occur.

[h/t Newsweek]

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