As NASA’s space shuttle program comes to an end, many insurance companies are eyeing the birth of a new commercial industry: Space tourism. Insurers have covered the space program since its inception, but now that NASA will no longer be launching expeditions into space as part of a federal project, the agency is looking to turn the program into a freelance affair. This shift toward a commercial market has got many insurers intrigued as a new opportunity for business emerges from the horizon.
This week, NASA’s last official shuttle will return to earth. After touching down, the federal space program will be shut down. NASA, however, is unwilling to throw out all the technology and massive machinery it has accumulated over the past several decades, neither is the agency willing to abandon the people aboard the International Space Station. So, the agency is looking to award several contracts to prestigious aerospace companies for resupply missions. NASA will also be investing a large amount of their newfound time in other aviary pursuits.
Despite its tentative foray into the commercial industry, NASA will continue insuring itself with a number of subsidiaries. However, the agency cannot account for all the protections necessary in their new venture and will be acquiring coverage from other private insurers. The pickings may be slim considering there are few companies able, or willing, to offer space insurance given the volatile nature of the cosmos.
The intimate details of NASA’s commercial plans are still unknown, but the agency is avidly seeking coverage for their new interests. The dawn of the commercial space travel era may be a unique opportunity for insurers.