The International Space Station. Photo: NASA

The International Space Station is open for business and private companies are making expensive plans to capitalize on it.

Why it matters: This commercialization effort by NASA is part of the agency's broader goals to welcome a broad swath of private enterprises to space to boost an economy in low-Earth orbit that will make NASA a buyer among many users instead of a sole provider.

  • NASA expects that shift will allow the agency to focus on farther afield missions like getting people to the Moon and Mars.

The state of play: Last week, Estée Lauder announced NASA will fly bottles of one of the company's beauty products to the space station, where astronauts will take photos and videos of it.

  • "The raw imagery will be provided back to Estée Lauder, and they intend to use them in social media posts," NASA spokesperson Stephanie Schierholz told me via email.
  • The bottles will fly up to the station aboard an upcoming Northrop Grumman cargo launch currently scheduled for the end of the month.
  • An unscripted show is expected to award its winner a 10-day trip to the space station in 2023, according to Deadline.

Yes, but: It isn't cheap for companies to make use of the space station and the astronauts who keep it functioning.

  • Companies will be charged about $17,500 for an hour of NASA astronaut time and $11,250 per day for a private astronaut's life support and use of a toilet.
  • Crew supplies — including air and food — cost $22,500 per private astronaut per day.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Oct 20, 2020 - Science

NASA tags an asteroid

A global map of Bennu. Photo: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft briefly touched the surface of an asteroid Tuesday in a bid to collect a sample from the space rock that will one day be returned to Earth.

Why it matters: Scientist are hoping to study a sample from the asteroid, named Bennu, to piece together more about the solar system's evolution. Asteroids are thought to be leftovers from the formation of planets billions of years ago.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Oct 20, 2020 - Science

NASA will attempt to snag an asteroid sample today

Bennu as seen by OSIRIS-REx. Photo: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

NASA will attempt to grab a sample from an asteroid tonight.

The big picture: Scientists hope the sample from the asteroid Bennu will allow them to learn more about the early days of the solar system and how it has evolved over billions of years.

Amy Harder, author of Generate
5 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Climate change goes mainstream in presidential debate

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty

The most notable part of Thursday’s presidential debate on climate change was the fact it was included as a topic and assumed as a fact.

The big picture: This is the first time in U.S. presidential history that climate change was a featured issue at a debate. It signals how the problem has become part of the fabric of our society. More extreme weather, like the wildfires ravaging Colorado, is pushing the topic to the front-burner.

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