The American company Virgin Galactic, which plans to organize tourist space flights, and NASA have concluded the “Space Act Agreement.” It provides for commercial manned flights to the International Space Station (“ISS”), which should contribute to “developing a sustainable economy in low Earth orbit.”
Under the agreement, Virgin Galactic will develop a new private training program for orbiting astronauts. This program will include identifying candidates interested in purchasing a private flight to the ISS, providing delivery to the ISS, and providing orbital and ground resources. Support and coordination of the use of ISS resources will be an important integration point necessary for each flight of a private astronaut. Virgin Galactic hopes, “building on the commercial experience of space travel,” to provide “a unique, personalized customer experience for space travel to orbit.”
Through the partnership, NASA will be able to leverage Virgin Galactic’s commercial expertise and industry expertise. Virgin Galactic will also provide comprehensive program management and integrated astronaut training packages for private passengers, designed to meet the needs of commercial space flights in orbit.