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PayPal looks to conquer space (payments)

Margaret Race, a scientist at SETI institute, announced the launch of the PayPal Galactic initiative Thursday.

Marcio Jose Sanchez /Associated Press

Margaret Race, a scientist at SETI institute, announced the launch of the PayPal Galactic initiative Thursday.

NEW YORK — PayPal wants to begin to figure out how payments and commerce will work beyond Earth’s realm once space travel and tourism take off.

PayPal, which is eBay Inc.’s payments business, is launching a PayPal Galactic initiative with help from the nonprofit SETI Institute and the Space Tourism Society, an industry group. The goal is to determine how commerce will work in space. Issues include regulation and what currency will be used.

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PayPal’s president, David Marcus, said that while space tourism was once the stuff of science fiction, it’s becoming a reality.

‘‘There are lots of important questions that the industry needs to answer,’’ he said.

Richard Branson’s space travel company, Virgin Galactic, plans to charge $200,000 per person for taking tourists into space. The company has hired two pilots as it moves into the final testing stages for its spacecraft.

PayPal is no stranger to space. One of its founders, Elon Musk, heads the privately held space company Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX).

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