Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
Orbital Sciences and Virgin Galactic have teamed up to propose a four person reusable orbital spacecraft to ferry crews to ISS. Key quote:
The spacecraft, designed to launch atop an Atlas 5 rocket and dock with the international space station, could be ready for test flights as early as 2014. The remotely piloted spacecraft would be able to carry four passengers initially, including three astronauts and one paying ticketholder, though based on market demand the number of private rides aboard the vehicle could grow to two, with four astronaut seats available, sources said. In the works at Orbital for the past year, the reusable spacecraft would be built using existing materials and technologies, employ standard hypergolic propellants and rely on a pusher escape system in the event of a launch mishap, sources said. [emphasis mine]
Note their insistence that they be allowed to fly tourists. This is a major change from how NASA has operated in the past, as a Soviet-style government agency hostile to commercial profits.
Correction: Clark Lindsey notes that the Orbital press release makes no mention of Virgin Galactic, as reported above.