NASA's administrator Jim Bridenstine recently announced that the US space agency "excited to work with Tom Cruise on a film aboard the International Space Station". Before administrator, Jim's twitter announcement, deadline posted an article mentioning the actor along with SpaceX's Elon Musk to be working on a project "that would be the first narrative feature film – an action-adventure – to be shot in outer space." Musk even replied to Jim's tweet, "Should be a lot of fun". Typical Elon!
A lot of speculation on whether any actors will go onboard the space station has exploded on social media. CNN mentioned that a NASA spokesperson confirmed that Tom cruise would launch and stay aboard the International Space Station. With SpaceX's Crew Dragon making its first flight with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on May 27th, Cruise and his team will likely use the same vehicle for the extra-terrestrial journey.
Is this the future of ISS?
The International Space Station became operational on November 2nd 2000. Originally planned to last up till 2015, the ISS program has been extended twice. In 2011, the life was extended till 2020 and in 2015, till 2024. US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act aimed to increase private use of the space station. In the year 2019, NASA opened the ISS to commercial opportunities in a press event at Nasdaq stock market's MarketSite in New York City.
There have been many discussions on the viability to sustain the multibillion-dollar laboratory in space post-2024. Articles like The Options for the Future of the International Space Station and The future of Internation Space Station pointed out towards decommissioning the station as the best alternative. They discuss how private companies have shown little interest in the activities of the space station.
The future of International Space Station as a commercial spot for non-governmental workers to visit and stay.
Now, with Jim's announcement, the debate can be opened again. A seat onboard Crew Dragon will cost about $50 million each as announce by SpaceX earlier. A NASA directive released last year detailed plans to allow non-government space travellers to pay for the use of ISS. The document priced the use of life-support equipment at $11,250 per day while food, air, and other provisions were priced at $22,500 per day.
The US spends an estimate of $3 to $4 billion to keep the station orbiting. While the above prices don't pay for the whole operations, does a feature film shot in space paves the path for a new future of the International Space Station?
No matter what, I hope the movie starts with Bowie's Space Oddity blasting and Major Tom floating in the Space Station.