The International Space Station seen from the Space Shuttle Discovery during separation.  Picture: NASA via AP
The International Space Station seen from the Space Shuttle Discovery during separation. Picture: NASA via AP
CFO NASA Headquarters' Jeff DeWit, Robyn Gatens, Deputy Director, International Space Station at NASA Headquarters, and Bill Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator, NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, sit during a news conference announcing that NASA is opening the International Space Station for commercial business, so US industry innovation and ingenuity can accelerate a commercial economy in low-Earth orbit, at the NASDAQ Market site. Picture: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters
CFO NASA Headquarters' Jeff DeWit, Robyn Gatens, Deputy Director, International Space Station at NASA Headquarters, and Bill Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator, NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, sit during a news conference announcing that NASA is opening the International Space Station for commercial business, so US industry innovation and ingenuity can accelerate a commercial economy in low-Earth orbit, at the NASDAQ Market site. Picture: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters
NASA commercial crew astronauts Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins, Douglas Hurley and Bob Behnken pose for a portrait at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Picture: Mike Blake/Reuters
NASA commercial crew astronauts Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins, Douglas Hurley and Bob Behnken pose for a portrait at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Picture: Mike Blake/Reuters
NASA commercial crew astronauts Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover run through a training session at a replica International Space Station (ISS) at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Picture: Mike Blake/Reuters
NASA commercial crew astronauts Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover run through a training session at a replica International Space Station (ISS) at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Picture: Mike Blake/Reuters
NASA commercial crew astronauts Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover run through a training session at a replica International Space Station (ISS) at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Picture: Mike Blake/Reuters
NASA commercial crew astronauts Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover run through a training session at a replica International Space Station (ISS) at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Picture: Mike Blake/Reuters
NASA commercial crew astronauts Victor Glover climbs into a T38 aircraft for a training flight with fellow astronaut Michael Hopkins in Houston, Texas. Picture: Mike Blake/Reuters
NASA commercial crew astronauts Victor Glover climbs into a T38 aircraft for a training flight with fellow astronaut Michael Hopkins in Houston, Texas. Picture: Mike Blake/Reuters
NASA commercial crew astronaut Michael Hopkins works through an emergency procedure inside a replica International Space Station (ISS) at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Picture: Mike Blake/Reuters
NASA commercial crew astronaut Michael Hopkins works through an emergency procedure inside a replica International Space Station (ISS) at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Picture: Mike Blake/Reuters
A pair of Vans NASA sneakers are worn by commercial crew astronaut Victor Glover as he trains inside a replica International Space Station at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Picture: Mike Blake/Reuters
A pair of Vans NASA sneakers are worn by commercial crew astronaut Victor Glover as he trains inside a replica International Space Station at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Picture: Mike Blake/Reuters
The sleeve of NASA commercial crew astronaut Victor Glover reflects the SpaceX spacecraft he will be riding in when lifts-off to the International Space Station on a future mission as he trains at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Picture: Mike Blake/Reuters
The sleeve of NASA commercial crew astronaut Victor Glover reflects the SpaceX spacecraft he will be riding in when lifts-off to the International Space Station on a future mission as he trains at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Picture: Mike Blake/Reuters
NASA commercial crew astronaut Victor Glover poses for a portrait at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas
NASA commercial crew astronaut Victor Glover poses for a portrait at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas
NASA commercial crew astronauts Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover run through a training session at a replica International Space Station (ISS) at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Picture: Mike Blake/Reuters
NASA commercial crew astronauts Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover run through a training session at a replica International Space Station (ISS) at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Picture: Mike Blake/Reuters
NASA commercial crew astronaut Victor Glover gears up for a training flight in Houston, Texas. Picture: Mike Blake/Reuters
NASA commercial crew astronaut Victor Glover gears up for a training flight in Houston, Texas. Picture: Mike Blake/Reuters
The crew notebook of NASA commercial crew astronaut Victor Glover is shown as he trains inside a replica International Space Station at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Picture: Mike Blake/Reuters
The crew notebook of NASA commercial crew astronaut Victor Glover is shown as he trains inside a replica International Space Station at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Picture: Mike Blake/Reuters
NASA astronaut flight gear is shown in a pre-flight ready room in Houston. Picture: Mike Blake/Reuters
NASA astronaut flight gear is shown in a pre-flight ready room in Houston. Picture: Mike Blake/Reuters
NASA commercial crew astronauts Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins talk over their flight procedures prior to a training flight in Houston. Picture: Mike Blake/Reuters
NASA commercial crew astronauts Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins talk over their flight procedures prior to a training flight in Houston. Picture: Mike Blake/Reuters

Washington/Seattle - NASA will allow private citizens to stay at the International Space Station (ISS) for month-long getaways at a cost of about $35000 per night, the US space agency said on Friday.

The shift reverses a long-standing prohibition against tourists and private interests at the orbiting research lab, and reflects a broader push to expand commercial activities at the ISS and in space more generally.

It paves the way for private citizens to travel to the ISS aboard rocket-and-capsule launch systems being developed by Boeing Co and Elon Musk's SpaceX. The two companies are set to ferry astronauts to the ISS from U.S. soil for the first time in nearly a decade.

NASA will allow up to two private trips to the station per year, each lasting up to 30 days, NASA said. The first mission could be as early as 2020.

But the ride won't be cheap.

NASA estimated the cost of a flight would be around $50 million per seat. In addition, NASA will charge visitors for food, storage and communication once at the station.

"If you look at the pricing and you add it up, back of a napkin, it would be roughly $35,000 a night, per astronaut," NASA's Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWit told a news conference in New York.

"But it won't come with any Hilton or Marriott points," DeWit deadpanned.

NASA's Russian counterpart Roscosmos has already allowed a number of private citizens at the station.

NASA officials also said opening the door to private enterprise gives the agency more room to focus on the Trump administration's goal of returning to the moon by 2024, which could be fueled in part by revenue generated from new commercial services and paying astronauts.

Arrangements for the trip were being left to Boeing and SpaceX, NASA said. 

Reuters