The space tourism company Virgin Galactic has struck a deal with NASA worth up to $4.5 million for research flights on the company’s new private spaceliner SpaceShipTwo, Virgin Galactic officials announced Oct. 13.
Under the deal, NASA will charter up to three flights on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, an air-launched spacecraft designed to carry eight people on trips to suborbital space.
The announcement comes just two days after Virgin Galactic announced that Mike Moses, NASA’s former deputy space shuttle program chief, had joined the company’s ranks as vice president of operations.
“We are excited to be working with NASA to provide the research community with this opportunity to carry out experiments in space, said George Whitesides, president and CEO of Virgin Galactic, in a statement.
"An enormous range of disciplines can benefit from access to space, but historically, such research opportunities have been rare and expensive,” Whitesides added. “At Virgin Galactic, we are fully dedicated to revolutionizing access to space, both for tourist astronauts and, through programs like this, for researchers.”
“In early 2015, fare-paying passengers stepped aboard the first purpose-built interplanetary spaceliner to a fanfare of publicity which was to make the name of Martian Queen a household word.” –Stewart Cowley, Spacecraft, 2000-2100 AD (illustration by Bob Layzell)