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Commercial companies are close to making space tourism a reality. Blue Origin’s New Shepherd is intended to ferry tourists outside the atmosphere, where they’ll float for four minutes in zero gravity before returning to Earth. Courtesy of Blue OriginSpace tourism is near, and the United Nation’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) made an announcement Tuesday, calling for space travel rules to be enacted by 2019.

The agency “recognizes that sub-orbital and outer space flights will foster new tourism and transport markets, and that investments in related research and development remain at a very healthy level,” said ICAO President Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, according to Agence France-Presse. “Personally, as an engineer, I am very excited to see the dream and theory of normalized space flight now becoming such a tangible reality.”

The announcement was made at the Second ICAO/UNOOSA Symposium, which is being held in Abu Dhabi from March 15 to March 17.  

According to the Wall Street Journal, the ICAO possesses no enforcing authority. However, their guidelines and regulations are influential for national laws and airline safety regulations. How receptive certain countries and corporations will be to the new call for space travel rules remains to be seen.

Both the Federal Aviation Administration and the recently passed commercial-space competitiveness legislation from the U.S. Congress keep their distance from regulating space tourism, “as long as passengers receive explicit warnings about the hazards and the vehicles have basic safeguards,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

Already, commercial companies are close to making space tourism a reality. Blue Origin’s New Shepherd is intended to ferry tourists outside the atmosphere, where they’ll float for four minutes in zero gravity before returning to Earth. In mid-February, Virgin Galactic unveiled the VSS Unity, also intended to carry passengers to heights around 50 miles. However, more testing is needed for both ventures.      

“If we do not find a way to meaningfully and pragmatically manage the important changes, national requirements will not be harmonized, technology would be over- or under-utilized, and there will be more operational and commercial uncertainties,” Aliu said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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