Virgin Galactic to Help NASA Send Civilian Space Travelers to the ISS

Virgin Galactic strikes deal with NASA to find it customers for a trip to the ISS 11 photos
Photo: Virgin Galactic
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The liberalization of space exploration and the International Space Station (ISS), if it can be called that, will probably lead in the not so distant future to some interesting developments.
For most of the time it has been in orbit, the ISS has been exclusively home to people who have been trained by a government entity belonging to one of the 18 nations that have been up there so far. But that will likely change as commercial partners are increasingly accepted by NASA.

Chasing the means to keep the station afloat financially speaking for many years to come, NASA – although it is not the only country owning the ISS – is looking to draw more organizations and people on board for whatever reason. Experiments are of course the main reason for someone going over 250 miles above ground (400 km), but tourism and even movie-making are not excluded.

In what may the most surprising move in the space industry in recent times, Virgin Galactic, a group that has so far only sent three people to the edge of space, has been tasked with developing “a new private orbital astronaut readiness program.” The program includes finding out who wants to go up there in exchange for money, giving them the means of getting to the ISS, and the resources they need to do whatever they’re going up there to do.

So, what exactly are they talking about? Simply put, Virgin has become the main tool for NASA to attract customers to the ISS, be it for “private citizen expeditions to government-enabled scientific research missions.”

“We are excited to partner with NASA on this private orbital spaceflight program, which will not only allow us to use our spaceflight platform, but also offer our space training infrastructure to NASA and other agencies,” said in a statement George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic.

“Based on the unsurpassed levels of spaceflight customer commitments we have secured to date, we are proud to share that insight in helping to grow another market for the new space economy. We want to bring the planetary perspective to many thousands of people.”
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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