I hadn’t noticed this earlier, but I saw this on Space.com – Virgin Galactic will work with NASA to train private astronauts for orbital spaceflights: https://www.space.com/virgin-galactic-nasa-private-astronaut-training-program.html. The article goes into more details than I included below.
Virgin Galactic is will soon launch a “private orbital astronaut readiness program.”
NASA is joining forces with Virgin Galactic to support the future of space tourism.
On Monday (June 22), NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas penned a Space Act Agreement with the spaceflight company Virgin Galactic to develop a “private orbital astronaut readiness program.” This initiative is among NASA’s efforts to increase commercial use of the International Space Station (ISS), a goal the agency announced over a year ago.
The partnership will include “identifying candidates interested in purchasing private astronaut missions to the ISS,” according to a Virgin Galactic statement. It will also encompass training for those private astronauts, transportation to the space station, and support and coordination using space station resources for future missions under this program. Virgin Galactic has not yet disclosed more specific details about these future flights within this program and how they will operate or how much they might cost.
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,” George Whitesides, chief executive of Virgin Galactic, said in the same statement.
On Friday (June 19), before the agreement was announced, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted: “BREAKING: @NASA is developing the process to fly astronauts on commercial suborbital spacecraft. Whether it’s suborbital, orbital, or deep space, NASA will utilize our nation’s innovative commercial capabilities. RFI will be released next week.”