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).
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.
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.
This is big news. Across a range of programs and destinations, NASA is catalyzing innovation and leading the way toward a positive future in space. We look forward to working with the agency to advance this exciting capability to fly NASA astronauts. @JimBridenstine @NASA https://t.co/0gR7mUvotq— George Whitesides (@gtwhitesides) June 19, 2020
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.