Virgin Galactic announced that it has made a deal with NASA to bring private astronauts to the International Space Station. So far, Richard Branson’s company hasn’t done any paid suborbital trips, let alone orbital flights. However, the NASA contract only calls for Virgin to find commercial client prospects and coordinate their transport to the ISS, for now. That could involve training and possibly brokering trips on the SpaceX Crew Dragon, Boeing Starliner or Russia’s Soyuz Capsule.
The idea is that Virgin Galactic will create a plan for how to do all this and run it by NASA. “NASA will conduct an assessment of the feasibility of Virgin Galactic’s plan to develop a new private orbital astronaut readiness program to enable private astronaut missions to the International Space Station,” NASA told The Verge. “Virgin Galactic’s plans to develop a new private orbital astronaut readiness program directly support NASA’s broad strategy to facilitate the commercialization of low-Earth orbit by U.S. entities.”