NASA Jacks Up ISS Commercial Prices, Neglects to Tell Users

A month ago, it cost $3,000 per kilogram to send a payload to the International Space Station (ISS). Today, it will cost you $20,000 per kilogram for exactly the same payload.

NASA jacked up the price by 666 percent on Feb. 25, apparently without any prior notice to its user community. The change was quietly announced on the space agency’s website.

SpaceNews reports the decision has caused some consternation over at Nanoracks and other companies that regularly send payloads to the orbiting laboratory.

New ISS use policy as of Feb. 25, 2021

In announcing the policy change, NASA said it had previously subsidized transportation to and from the station in order to foster the development of commercial space applications.

“Since making these opportunities available, there has been a growing demand for commercial and marketing activities from both traditional aerospace companies and from novel industries, demonstrating the benefits of the space station to help catalyze and expand space exploration markets and the low-Earth orbit economy,” the space agency said. “As a result, NASA has updated its pricing policy for commercial activities conducted on the station to reflect full reimbursement for the value of NASA resources.”

Old ISS use policy announced in June 2019.

“The new pricing applies to proposals submitted under NASA Research Announcement (NRA) NNJ13ZBG001N Focus Area 3 Purchase of Resources for Commercial Purposes. NASA is in the process of reassessing the value and amount of available resources for private astronaut missions and plans to update that pricing policy in the near future,” NASA said.

The space agency removed a section governing the cost of visits by private astronauts to ISS. NASA said it is still revising this section of the user policy.

Under the old policy, NASA would have charged $11,250 per person per day for use of the station’s life support system and toilet. The daily cost of food and other provisions would have cost $22.500 per person, while power was pegged at $42 per KWh.

A number of visits by private astronauts are planned to the station by groups in the United States and Russia.