Richard Branson’s space tourism venture, Virgin Galactic, signed a contract with NASA’s Johnson Space Center called the Space Act Agreement to begin training private astronauts for trips to the International Space Station (ISS) in an effort to increase commercial use of the ISS in human spaceflight.
Under the agreement, Virgin Galactic is tasked with developing a new private orbital astronaut readiness program, which involves finding companies and organizations that are interested in purchasing private astronaut missions to the ISS and coordinating the necessary resources — both on earth and in space — to make successful trips.
George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic said in a statement: “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.
“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.”
In response to the signing of the agreement, the Virgin Galactic stock is absolutely soaring, with shares up about 14% in premarket trading at $17.12.
This spike is due to the fact that the agreement represents space tourism going commercial. That’s huge news, my dudes.
Until now, Virgin Galactic has been focused on taking paying customers to outer space, but now, the company will help train non-NASA astronauts so that more people can participate in “low earth economy.”
Whether this is good or bad is up to you to decide, but the future is clearly now, so let’s see what happens.