(Photo courtesy zeenews.com)
In a new partnership aimed at increasing commercial use of the International Space Station, NASA has tasked Virgin Galactic with coordinating private astronaut trips to the station.
- Virgin Galactic stock soared 16% following the announcement
According to its new Space Act Agreement with NASA, Virgin Galactic’s job is to create a “new private orbital astronaut readiness program.” Basically, that means finding companies or organizations that want to send people to the ISS and then finding a way to get them up there (and back, of course).
Virgin Galactic will also be responsible for coordinating resources, logistics, and travel plans for its customers. In other words: Virgin will basically act as a space travel agency.
Who can book a flight to space? Anyone with enough money. A ticket to fly with Virgin Galactic to just the edge of space costs about $250,000.
Virgin Galactic says it’s looking for a wide variety of customers. “This is not just for potentially private space travelers, but could also be for researchers,” said Virgin Galactic’s CEO George Whitesides.
Virgin Galactic has yet to begin commercial operations of its space tourism business, and it has only sent five people to space on two separate test flights. Nevertheless, the new agreement with NASA is one small step for space tourism, one giant leap for Virgin Galactic.