SpaceX won’t be the only private company bringing people to the International Space Station. Virgin Galactic announced Monday that it has signed a deal with NASA to train private astronauts and coordinate potential trips to the ISS.
Shares of Virgin Galactic (SPCE) soared more than 10% on the news. The stock has surged nearly 45% so far in 2020, largely due to optimism about demand for private space travel, even though it continues to lose money.
As part of Virgin Galactic’s deal with NASA, the company will “develop a new private orbital astronaut readiness program,” it said in a statement.
“This program will include identifying candidates interested in purchasing private astronaut missions to the ISS, the procurement of transportation to the ISS, on-orbit resources, and ground resources,” the company added.
Virgin Galactic’s own SpaceShipTwo is a suborbital spaceplane that is incapable of making it to the ISS, and the company has only sent five people to space on two suborbital test flights. The company says it has already received about 600 reservations for suborbital flights at the approximate price of $250,000 per seat.