NASA Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWit told FOX Business he thinks the agency's decision to open the International Space Station (ISS) to tourists and private companies is a “game changer for space.”
"This opens up a whole new market for companies, as well as drives a lower cost to taxpayers for us getting back to the moon. This administration has given us until 2024 to get back to the moon, which we do intend to do, and to put the next man and the first woman on the lunar surface," he said on “Cavuto: Coast-to-Coast” Friday.
As part of its "commercialization" of the ISS, NASA will be making one space station port and utilities available for a private company to "attach a commercial module to.”
DeWit said NASA's decision will help the U.S. enable a sustainable presence on the moon, which he claimed is needed to drive innovation and complete technologies that will allow the U.S. to have a sustainable presence on Mars.
"We will, in the 2030s, be going to Mars sustainably there as well," he said.
DeWit also said both SpaceX and Boeing, which are building a spacecraft called the Starliner, are working with NASA to transport citizens to the moon.
“Right now, we pay about $80 million a seat to go to the space station ourselves, the cost for us is coming down to $58 million a seat, and I would expect, for private astronauts, the cost could be even less than that," he said.
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DeWit added one night’s stay at the ISS would be about $35,000 per person.
President Trump pushed back on NASA's plans on Twitter Friday, saying, “For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon - We did that 50 years ago. They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!”
For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon - We did that 50 years ago. They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2019
NASA has previously banned any commercial use of the space station and prohibited astronauts from taking part in for-profit research.