Commercial Companies Ready to Blaze New Trails in Space
[SpaceX] has already successfully won a NASA contract for $1.6 billion to transport cargo to the space station aboard its Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket. Another firm, Virginia-based Orbital Sciences, is building its own Taurus 2 rockets and unmanned Cygnus spaceships in a $1.9 billion contract to haul supplies for NASA as well.
Because of NASA grants to develop these spacecraft, [President Gwynne] Shotwell said her company was able to successfully design a system that is now bringing in revenue beyond just its NASA work. SpaceX has already booked 32 flights on its Falcon 9 booster and seven launches of its smaller Falcon 1 rocket, she said….
“Orbital is a very strong supporter of NASA’s new direction that includes a component that focuses on commercial crew opportunities,” said Dave Thompson, Orbital co-founder and CEO.
Orbital has also won a NASA contract to provide eight future unmanned cargo delivery flights to the space station on its Cygnus spacecraft and Taurus II rocket. The company is considering transforming aspects of this system to carry humans.
And besides NASA needs, there are other avenues for possible commercial and government collaboration in space, industry leaders said.
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