Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson’s space tourism venture, is planning to organise private astronaut trips to the International Space Station (ISS), in partnership with NASA.
The company said on Monday, June 22, that they have teamed up with NASA to create a program that encourages private missions to the ISS.
According to The Verge, Virgin Galactic signed an agreement, the Space Act Agreement, with NASA. This agreement requires that Branson’s company creates a “new private orbital astronaut readiness program”. Encompassed in this requirement, is the task of finding companies and organisations who are interested in sending people to the space station, and finding the best way to get them there.
“Supporting and coordinating the use of ISS resources will be an important point of integration required for each private astronaut mission. The next generation of space traveller is interested in a variety of space experiences. Building on its commercial spaceflight training experience, Virgin Galactic believes it can provide an unparalleled, personalised customer experience for orbital space travel,” said Virgin Galactic in a statement.
According to Virgin Galactic. NASA has described an increased demand for the use of the ISS, for reasons including scientific and technological research and development, commercial activity, and international collaboration. Therefore, private astronaut experiences “could range from private citizen expeditions to government-enabled scientific research mission,” said Virgin Galactic.
“Virgin Galactic will also contribute end-to-end program management and integrated astronaut training packages for private passengers, tailored to meet the needs for a commercial orbital space flight experience.”
Virgin Galactic’s existing space experiences could play an important role in the training for orbital travel, allowing passengers to become familiar with the environment in space, such as G-forces and zero-G.
Image: Twitter/Jim Bridenstine