NASA Has Boosted COTS Funding by Additional $40 Million Since October
NASA has boosted its investment in two logistics services being developed for the international space station by $40 million so far this year, and plans to double that payout by the end of March despite the fact that Congress has yet to appropriate the necessary funds for the effort, according to an agency official.
The additional payouts to Orbital Sciences Corp. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) cover newly created ground-test milestones for their respective cargo delivery systems, according to Alan Lindenmoyer, head of NASAâ€™s Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston and NASAâ€™s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program manager. Lindenmoyer said his office has paid the companies an additional $40 million combined since the start of the fiscal year Oct. 1 and hopes to dole out another $40 million by the end of March.
The two companies were set to split a $300 million COTS funding boost requested in the 2011 budget blueprint U.S. President Barack Obama sent lawmakers last February. But Congress has yet to adopt a spending plan for the year, instead passing a temporary appropriation Dec. 21 that leaves NASA to fund existing programs, including COTS, at last yearâ€™s funding levels through March 4.
NASAâ€™s 2010 budget included $39 million for the COTS program, under which Orbital and SpaceX are developing rockets and capsules that will ferry cargo to the space station on a commercial basis after the space shuttle retires. Both companies hold separate contracts to begin making those deliveries, which are expected to begin next year.
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