Space travel and tourism are achievable dreams for the near future, and PayPal aims to reach the final frontier before its rivals do.

The eBay unit's PayPal Galactic initiative brings together minds from the SETI Institute and the Space Tourism Society as well as legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin, to figure out what the commerce ecosystem in space will be.

PayPal can “really start thinking from a blank sheet of paper,” says David Marcus, president of PayPal, in a June 27 press briefing.

As part of this initiative, PayPal launched the Curiosity Movement, a crowdfunding system to support research at the SETI Institute.

Many questions arise when looking into space payments and commerce, says Marcus. What currency would be used? What about risk, compliance and security? How will the banking system adapt? What government will have authority or sovereignty in space? How will customer support need to adapt?

The first space tourism flights will take place in December. Although a flight costs thousands of dollars today, Marcus says, “Futurists expect space travel to follow what happened with air travel.”

Only a couple of decades ago, flights from Los Angeles to New York were more than $4,000. The same flight today costs approximately $300.

A space hotel is set to open in the next three years, Marcus says. Plus space sports could become a popular pastime as well, especially after National Geographic reported that Mars, with its sandy terrain and dry ice formations, could be a destination for extreme snowboarders.  

While some may think PayPal has its head in the clouds, the company is laying its claim to be the leading provider in space.

That said, the initiative won’t take away from PayPal’s earthbound customers. “We’re very, very focused day in and day out on building products for this planet and our customers here…this is not a distraction,” Marcus says.  

The SETI Institute has found many other planets in our solar system and is still looking for extraterrestrial life, which means the opportunities for space commerce are endless, says Dr. Frank Drake, chairman emeritus of the SETI Institute, at the press briefing.

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