This is the problem with trying to make a movie from a book with a well thought out but complex plot.
In the book the machine was described as a means to tap into the transport system used by those who created the message. Those who sent the message controlled the transport. The movie vaguely shows this, as Arroway is transported from system to system before her encounter with the alien who talks to her. What the movie doesn't make clear, but the book does, is that the aliens were not going to let humans use the transport system again any time soon.
So, what was originally a solid plot is now a hole (probably because the producers thought the description of how the machine works was too "sciencey").
Yes, at $100 a drop, you too can meet Arroway's dad for a session of "wind Surfing". Just have the consortium pay their utility bill. Or they could sell the machine to Six Flags, move it next to Superman the Ride, pipe carnival music into the pod for riders to enjoy during each drop. Exit into a gift shop/food stand where they would be quite hungry from their 18 hour trip (no expensive congressional inquiry necessary).