La NASA abrirá la Estación Espacial Internacional (EEI) al turismo. El laboratorio orbital, exclusivo hasta ahora para proyectos científicos, recibirá viajeros en un futuro próximo, que llegarán a través de lanzaderas como el Space X de Elon Musk. No será necesario llegar a ser astronauta, pero sí tener los, aproximadamente, 50 millones de euros que costará el viaje.

La agencia norteamericana no se convertirá en agencia de viajes, sino que operará a través de terceras empresas –que deben ser estadounidenses- que comercialicen estas escapadas espaciales. Y pondrán límites: solo 12 astronautas privados podrán viajar cada año a la EEI, siempre que reembolsen unos gastos estimados en 35.000 dólares al día (30.000 euros).

Viaje espacial
Esta cantidad, sin embargo, no incluye el transporte ni otros condicionantes para poder viajar al espacio, como el entrenamiento previo. El coste final de cada viaje se dispararía así hasta los 50 millones de dólares. La decisión, anunciada en la sede de Nasdaq el viernes, tiene por objetivo acelerar el proceso de innovación para desarrollar la nueva economía en la órbita baja terrestre. Estos fondos extra serían empleados por la NASA según explicó su director financiero, Jeff DeWitt, para poder seguir explorando el espacio.

Anunciado coincidiendo con el quincuagésimo aniversario de la misión Apolo, que llevó al primer hombre a la Luna, la agencia se plantea como nuevos retos enviar una nueva misión al satélite, que lleve la primera mujer a la Luna, o continuar explorando Marte.

Lo cierto es que la NASA depende cada vez más de compañías privadas para su financiación y Donald Trump apuestsa por la privatización del negocio espacial.

La idea de darle a la estación espacial internacional un uso comercial no es nueva; desde hace tres décadas diferentes Administraciones la han tanteado, si bien ninguna compañía había mostrado interés en gestionar estos potenciales viajes.

Los viajeros tampoco serán los primeros: desde 2008 siete turistas han visitado la EII tras pagar una cifra próxima a los 20 millones de dólares a Rusia. Incluso uno de ellos, Charles Simonyi, participó en dos ocasiones.

Confían en nosotros
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