Virgin Galactic Signs Agreement with NASA to Train Its Astronauts for Orbital Spaceflight

The move increases the commercial participation of human spaceflight to the ISS.
Fabienne Lang

The future of space tourism just got a lot stronger. Virgin Galactic and NASA have signed a Space Act Agreement, joining forces to work on training private astronauts to launch up to the International Space Station (ISS).

The Agreement was signed by NASA's Johnson Space Center and Virgin Galactic on Monday 22 June, which will develop a "private orbital astronaut readiness program."

It's a big move forward in space tourism. 


Private astronaut missions

The deal will also see to "identifying candidates interested in purchasing private astronaut missions to the ISS," as per Virgin Galactic's statement

This means that the double team will include training for private astronauts, transport to the ISS, as well as support and coordination thanks to ISS resources for future missions under this program. Virgin Galactic has yet to disclose the exact details of these future missions, how they will operate, and how much they will cost. 

"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," George Whitesands, CEO of Virgin Galactic, said in the statement

The company's new Space Act Agreement also opens up future opportunities for NASA working with commercial spaceflight options to the ISS. 

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It's a big moment for both Virgin Galactic and NASA, with the space agency's administrator, Jim Bridenstine, taking to Twitter to share part of the exciting news. 

Virgin Galactic keeps growing and growing. This isn't its first astronaut program. There is already an ongoing Future Astronaut Readiness program for those who have already signed up from their site, Spaceport in New Mexico. The launch site will be used in the new collaboration with NASA for certain elements of the program, including private astronaut training

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