PayPal believes that space is the future of commerce, and PayPal wants first dibs. On Thursday, the e-payment service announced PayPal Galactic, a initiative to figure out how to get future space travellers to use PayPal from space.
"Space tourism is opening up to all of us in the next decade or so," PayPal's president David Marcus said in a promotional video. "We want to make sure that PayPal is the preferred way to pay from space and in space."
PayPal has teamed up with the SETI Institute and former astronaut Buzz Aldrin to create a new payment system that will work in outer space.
The project raises valid questions: Would space tourists staying a space hotel have to bring cash with them (increasing a rocket ship's payload)? How will they communicate with banks and financial institutions on Earth?
"The dawn of commercial space flight is upon us," Buzz Aldrin said at Thursday's press conference. "It's not unrealistic to predict that we're only a generation away from a permanent human presence on Mars."
That "decade or so" that Marcus believes it will take for us regular folks get to hang out in space may be a bit ambitious. Space travel isn't cheap. There are very few space tourists, most likely because private flights into space cost tens of millions of dollars. Canadian entrepreneur Guy Laliberte paid $40 million for an 11 day trip into space in 2009. As of 2013, only 7 non-astronauts have ever traveled to space, and all of them were billionaires.
That aforementioned "space hotel," by the way, is slated to open in 2016.