For most, the first question to come to mind about space tourism is not always cash or credit. Paypal president David Marcus, however, is trying to get ahead of the curve by answering this ambitious question, launching Paypal Galactic late last night.
The Paypal Galactic Initiative, launched with the help of the SETI Institute, aims to bring together the various actors in the commercialization of space, better known as space tourism. Paypal Galactic would act to facilitate commercial transactions where, since various countries may be involved, currency becomes an issue.
The initiative will be formally unveiled later today, on the 15th anniversary of Paypal, at the SETI Institute campus in Silicon Valley. Attendees include Buzz Aldrin, the second astronaut to walk on the moon.
The Initiative is not so farfetched as it might appear. Space tourism is already an established and burgeoning field. Russia is set to launch the first orbiting commercial space station to operate like a hotel. Virgin has also announced Virgin Galactic, on track to being the world’s first commercial space line.
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However, certain financial problems arise. How will the consumer pay? Pounds or Rubles? How can you buy things in orbit? Even the quiet vacuum of space is not immune to the conditions of capitalism.
According to John Spencer, founder of the Space Tourism Society, "Within five to 10 years the earliest types of 'space hotels' and orbital and lunar commerce will be operational and in need of a payment system."
Since the end of the space race during the Cold War, advances into outer space grounded to a halt and lay dormant. Without the motivation of war, funding died but dreams certainly did not. Private space exploration has been surging forward to fill the void left by government programs. For years, contractors have sought desperately a way to commercialize space to fund their projects. These pioneer projects offer space tourism as a solution. Paypal Galactic acts as a catalyst.