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Virgin Galactic inks deal with NASA for private trips to ISS

It will act as a travel agency for trips to the space station.

- 01:04
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Virgin Galactic agreed to fly people to the International Space Station.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Virgin Galactic has signed a deal with NASA to fly private astronauts to the International Space Station, the company said Monday. Under the contract, the commercial space-flight company will find would-be space travelers, train them and organize transport to the ISS.

"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," Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said in a release.

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This is not the only Space Act Agreement that Virgin Galactic has signed with NASA. In May, the company signed a deal to develop a vehicle for efficient high-speed air travel.

Virgin Galactic's new agreement will "directly support NASA's broad strategy to facilitate the commercialization of low-Earth orbit by US entities," the space agency said in a statement emailed to CNET. But there are intermediate steps built into the plan.

"Under the agreement, 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 said.