Virgin Galactic is generally known as a space tourism company. But now it sees research experiments as a future mission segment and significant business opportunity. The company has signed a contract with NASA to provide up to three charter flights on its SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane.

The deal follows the end on the Space Shuttle program earlier this year and is part of NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program.

The contract value is US$4.5 million and the agreement requires NASA to charter a full suborbital flight from Virgin Galactic, and each mission will allow up to 590 kg of scientific experiments.

source virginatlantic