is planning commercial hypersonic point-to-point travel using a vehicle flying at 150,000ft (45,750m) to avoid friction from the atmosphere. NASA
could assist Virgin Galactic after the two signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) last week to explore possible collaboration in the development of vehicles capable of travelling at Mach 5-plus.
Under the MoU, spacesuits, heat shields, hybrid rocket motors and other spaceflight technologies may also be examined.
As part of the agreement Virgin Galactic would work with NASA's California-based Ames Research Center, which has windtunnels, 2,300 research personnel and a $600 million annual budget.
"We are really looking forward to exploring opportunities for the future and making hypersonic point-to-point travel possible," says Virgin Galactic chief operating officer Alex Tai.
Dan Coughlin, from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, who has been working with Ames Research Center, has been in discussions with Virgin Galactic since last year. Coughlin will now work with the UK space tourism company under the MoU.
NASA's MoU is with US-registered Virgin Galactic LLC, the trading company that will operate from New Mexico's Spaceport America and is owned by US holding company Galactic Ventures.
Galactic Ventures will also own The Spaceship Company, which holds the intellectual property rights for SpaceShipTwo