Virgin Galactic Has Signed An Agreement With NASA To Prepare Tourists For Flights To The ISS
The American company Virgin Galactic has signed an agreement with NASA to promote the development of orbital space tourism, according to a statement issued on Monday by the Corporation.
According to the agreement, Virgin Galactic along with specialists of the space flight Center named after Lyndon Johnson in Houston (Texas) will develop a program for selecting and preparing tourists for flights to the International Space Station (ISS).
"NASA is interested in wider use of the ISS for scientific, technological and commercial purposes and within the framework of international cooperation," the report says. As pointed out by Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides, the company wants thousands of people to be able to see the Earth from space.
The Verge portal compared the plans of Virgin Galactic with the activities of Space Adventures, which sent eight tourists to the ISS from 2001 to 2009 with the help of Russian "Unions." Roscosmos was paid at least $20 million for each flight.
The Verge also indicated that in this way, Virgin Galactic will take on the role of an intermediary between NASA and SpaceX, which, after the successful launch of the Crew Dragon ship on May 30, can deliver astronauts to the ISS.
Company's suborbital plans
Founded by British businessman Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic explained in a statement that it has extensive experience in developing space tourism and is currently organizing regular tourist flights to space. In early May, the company conducted the first flight test of the Unity SpaceShipTwo series. It launched at an altitude of 15.2 km, separated from the Eve booster plane, and made a planned flight, landing at the spaceport in New Mexico. The device developed a speed of Mach 0.7.
According to the company, Unity can spend more than two hours in flight and take on Board up to six passengers. They will have the opportunity to see the Earth from a height of 100 km and experience a state of weightlessness for a few minutes.
Last November, Virgin Galactic announced plans to launch regular tourist suborbital flights in mid-2020 and become a profitable enterprise by 2021.
According to the portal Space.com, the cost of one ticket is about $250 thousand. According to a company representative, more than 600 people have already paid a deposit for participation in the suborbital flight.