The ISS is now a B&B

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NASA has announced that it will allow tourists to fly to the International Space Station and stay over to experience space, the space station and to look back upon our planet with a completely different view from that most humans will usually see.

On the space station. One advantage of the holiday as opposed to going on a cruise is you don’t have to dress formally for the captain’s dinner. Image – NASA

The cost for this tourism experience? A mere $35,000 per night and for that you get a trip in a shuttle there and back plus your food on the shuttle and probably a space uniform to wear as well.

Compared to the $100,000 plus price tag of going up with Virgin Galactic, this looks like a good package for those who have sufficient cash or are so enthusiastic about space that they will sacrifice almost everything to get there. And unlike Virgin Galactic, you are going to have a bed for the night although the service provided won’t be quite up to a five star standard!

But going to the space station is fraught with problems for the average holidaymaker like you or me.

For a start you can’t go to a comparison website to get the best price because there is only one supplier. This monopolistic situation might be resolved in the future and I’m sure the Competition and Markets Authority will want to open an investigation but until it reports you will just have to front up and pay whatever NASA asks.

You can’t also use Airbnb or Booking.com to see what else is available nearby as there is nothing. Absolutely nothing. Indeed a great deal of nothing between the space station  and Earth

Nor – because it will be flying from the USA – will the package be ATOL bonded so to protect yourself against your supplier (NASA) going bust, you are on your own. Really on your own because how do you get back?

You could pay on a credit card (provided that you can charge that much to the card) so you would have a potential claim in the event of a problem. That claim will take aback the person in the credit card company when they receive the message. Something along the lines of the shuttle being delayed and a claim for tens of millions to send a replacement might make them think it is a hoax so perhaps you had better inform them in advance of your trip.

Similarly check your travel insurance because whilst I’m pretty sure there won’t be a space travel exclusion clause, there probably will be a clause with which they can wriggle so read the small print and ask them what additional premium you might need to pay to pop up to the space station for a day or so.

If you don’t have insurance you may have trouble finding some particularly since most applications begin with asking you what cover you want: – UK, Europe, World excluding North America and World. There isn’t a category for outer space so you’ll have to call the company for a specific quote. But you can always save some time and effort by getting a broker to do the work for you.

As space is outside the EU if you are delayed, your flight is cancelled or you lose your baggage you won’t be able to claim under EU261. But if there is a problem, I’m sure one of those nice ambulance chasing firms of lawyers will be happy to instigate a claim based on a no-win/no fee basis.

On the bright side I’m pretty sure Brexit won’t interfere with any flight plans so you can be assured on that count.

If all the hassle seems too much you can always go the Bognor for a few days. Or Blackpool or Llandudno. It’s just that those places don’t have the same bragging rights, do they?

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