MOUNTAIN VIEW (KCBS/AP)— The commercialization of space may not be moving at light speed, but it’s probably going faster than you think.
PayPal, which is eBay Inc.’s payments business, says it is launching an initiative called PayPal Galactic with the help of the nonprofit SETI Institute and the Space Tourism Society, an industry group focused on space travel. Its goal, PayPal says, is to work out how commerce will work in space.
Questions to be answered include how commerce will be regulated and what currency will be used. PayPal’s president, David Marcus, said the company is very serious about the idea. He says that while space tourism was once the stuff of science fiction, it’s now becoming a reality.
“There are lots of important questions that the industry needs to answer,” he said. There are regulatory and technical issues, along with safety and even what cross-border trade will look like when there are not a lot of borders.
“We feel that it’s important for us to start the conversation and find answers,” Marcus added. “We don’t have that much time.”
Indeed, space tourism is already moving from being only for the ultra-rich to the merely rich. A Russian conglomerate plans to open a space hotel in three years.
“If you’re in space what currency will you use? You know?” said PayPal President David Marcus with some very legitimate concerns regarding whose currency would be accepted for when the hotel opens.
Meanwhile, Richard Branson’s space travel company, Virgin Galactic, plans to charge $200,000 per person for taking tourists into space. The company said last month that it has hired two pilots as it moves into the final testing stages for its spacecraft.
Legendary Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, was the key speaker at a conference at the SETI Institute in Mountain View where he talked about his unified space vision.
“It’s a blueprint that will maintain U.S. leadership in human space flight and lead to a permanent, American-lead human presence on Mars sometime between 2035 and 2040,” he said.
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