The International Space Station has long been used by NASA and other government space agencies. As the corporate sector has recently begun to see space as its next target for endeavor, NASA is opening up the International Space Station for corporate use.
According to The Register, NASA will allow private companies to build on the International Space Station. Modules have been made by NASA as well as other agencies coming from Russia, Japan and other countries. With private companies joining in, corporate initiatives could start including space exploration.
Companies have expressed their interest in using the International Space Station. Some of these companies include Bigelow Aerospace, Axiom Space and Ixion, as the Room reported. The use of the space station would be an initial step towards the corporate sector being involved in space exploration, including a planned mission to Mars.
NASA administrator Charles Bolden hopes that with private companies joining in to use the International Space Station, it would become a lively and vibrant community. He also sees this as a way to test the economic viability of future space stations.
The International Space Station has been in use for 17 years now. It would reach end of life status in the next decade. There are plans to build future space stations, especially with NASA's NextSTEP initiative. This initiative has NASA and other private companies such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin develop deep space habitants in over two years.
The corporate sector has begun to have interest in space exploration, with Elon Musk and his company, SpaceX, undertaking initiatives to send satellites into orbit, with the ultimate goal of sending men to Mars. The United Launch Alliance is also looking to send people to Mars and is locked in a heated race with SpaceX for the same goal.
As the corporate sector becomes more involved, space would definitely become man's next frontier. Not only is the private sector going to be involved, but the U.N. is planning to spend its first ever space mission in 2021 as well.