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PayPal Galactic to boldly go where no credit card has gone before

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How will future space tourists pay for snacks off-planet?PayPal Galactic

Set phasers to charge?

The next time Captain James T. Kirk brings the Enterprise in for repairs, he probably won’t use Federation credits, Klingon darseks or any other space buck. But he might use something a little bit closer to home.

PayPal, the e-commerce business that allows for online money transfers anywhere in the world, announced the launch of PayPal Galactic on Thursday. Intended to make universal space payments a reality -- and help Kirk pay for that warp drive tune up -- PayPal Galactic plans to bring together leaders in the scientific community to prepare and support the future of space commerce.

"Astronauts who live for months in space still need to pay their bills back on Earth and for entertainment while in space," Anuj Nayar, the senior director of communications and social media of PayPal, told FoxNews.com in an email. "As we travel through space and explore new planets, we will still need to pay for life on Earth and out there, but how we will do this is not exactly clear."

'We are confident that Captain Kirk would use PayPal’s galactic payment system to pay for Enterprise’s repairs.'

- Anuj Nayar, the senior director of communications and social media of PayPal

"This is why we are announcing the launch of PayPal Galactic," he said.

In recent years, privately-owned space tourism programs such as Virgin Galactic and SpaceX have made strides in opening the experience of space exploration to the general public. 

In 2011, FoxNews.com reported that Russian firm, Orbital Technologies unveiled plans to launch a space hotel that is set to open in 2016. Trips to Mars could be possible within the next ten years. And Virgin Galactic hopes to start private trips to suborbital space by the end of this year.

In the hopes of being the world’s first and preferred monetary system that reaches into space, the company has partnered with the SETI Institute and other members of the scientific community to answer questions about the future of space commerce, such as “how will we manage ISPs from space, and what will our standard currency look like in a cash-free interplanetary society,” according to Nayar.

The need for such a payment system already exists, according to PayPal. Astronauts living aboard space stations still need to pay for life’s basic necessities. No matter how far from -- or above -- home they are, the astronauts are still responsible for them.

Or does it? Virgin Galactic will soon launch its first tourists into near-Earth orbit. They'll have bills to pay too. And the company has been accepting money for the travel -- using good old U.S. dollar bills.

"Payment is made by bank transfer, in U.S. dollars, from the customer to Virgin Galactic," said Sean Wilson, a spokeswoman for Virgin Galactic. "To date we are holding cash from deposits of almost $80 million," she told FoxNews.com.

As both SETI and PayPal share the same goals of exploring space and developing an interplanetary system, the company strongly feels that partnering with the sky-watching Institute will address the critical issues and make the payment system a reality. Scientists at the SETI institute are active in some of the world’s groundbreaking scientific research, such as the Allen Telescope Array and astrobiology.

“We are also launching a crowdfunding campaign … to support SETI Institute’s endeavors to educate the public and further its mission to improving the understanding of life on Earth, and the search for life beyond it,” Nayar told FoxNews.com.

So perhaps in the future, Captain Kirk and his crew will use PayPal Galactic for secure, timely payments while continuing to boldly go.

"We are confident that Captain Kirk would use PayPal’s galactic payment system," Nayar said.