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Space Getaways, for a Price

HIGH FLIERS The International Space Station could start taking paying passengers aboard as early as 2020. 3DSCULPTOR/GETTY IMAGES

Want to visit the International Space Station? You may soon get your chance. There’s just one hitch: It’ll cost you $58 million.

Last Friday, NASA announced it will open the space station to tourists. The first mission could happen as early as 2020. Those who are lucky—and rich—enough to make the trip will spend up to 30 days in orbit. The cost is about $35,000 per night. In addition, the space agency will charge visitors for food, storage, and communication.

"But it won't come with any Hilton or Marriott points," Jeff DeWit joked at a news conference. DeWit is NASA’s chief financial officer. Hilton and Marriott are hotel chains that offer rewards, in the form of points, to customers. Points can be redeemed for free stays.

Visitors will not make the trip in NASA spacecraft. Instead, the agency has made arrangements for private aerospace companies SpaceX and Boeing to carry passengers. These companies will also provide medical testing and training for customers.

The program is part of NASA’s plan to open the space station to private enterprise. Eventually, the station will become too costly for the U.S. government to keep up, says NASA’s Bill Gerstenmaier. The goal is to let private companies use the station now and someday run it on their own. This will allow NASA to focus time and money on sending astronauts to the moon in 2024.