CSF on NASA’s Suborbital Payload Provider Picks: We Like ’em!

Washington, D.C., Tuesday, August 9, 2011 (CSF PR) – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is pleased to congratulate member companies Armadillo Aerospace, Masten Space Systems, Virgin Galactic, and XCOR Aerospace for winning the latest round of contracts today to integrate and fly payloads to space as part of NASA’s Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research (CRuSR) program.  The CRuSR program is part of NASA’s Space Technology Program under the leadership of NASA’s Chief Technologist, Dr. Bobby Braun.

Commercial reusable suborbital spacecraft – such as Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, XCOR Aerospace’s Lynx, Masten Space Systems’ Xaero, Blue Origin’s New Shepard, and Armadillo Aerospace’s modular vehicles – provide the nation with a new low-cost capability to carry payloads and people to the edge of space.  NASA is taking advantage of these capabilities with its CRuSR program.  Following the Space Shuttle’s retirement, commercial suborbital vehicles are expected to be the next American flights of people into space from US soil.

Admiral Craig Steidle, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, stated, “Today’s announcement illustrates the future of NASA-industry partnerships in order to offer R&D, science, and education flight opportunities.”

According to NASA, “each successful vendor will receive an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract. These two-year contracts, worth a combined total of $10 million, will allow NASA to draw from a pool of commercial space companies to deliver payload integration and flight services. The flights will carry a variety of payloads to help meet the agency’s research and technology needs.”  A total of seven firms were selected.

Admiral Steidle added, “The Commercial Spaceflight Federation applauds the leadership of Dr. Bobby Braun, NASA’s Chief Technologist. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is a strong advocate for the CRuSR program and for Space Technology.”

NASA Chief Technologist Bobby Braun stated in the NASA press release, “NASA is moving toward the goal of making frequent, low-cost access to near-space available to a wide range of engineers, scientists and technologists.  The government’s ability to open the suborbital research frontier to a broad community of innovators will enable maturation of the new technologies and capabilities needed for NASA’s future missions in space.”

Commercial Spaceflight Federation Executive Director John Gedmark noted, “This is a big day for commercial space.  Just as 1920s air mail purchases helped jumpstart the airline industry, we expect that NASA’s purchases of flights on commercial suborbital vehicles will help accelerate this new industry.  Hundreds of scientists, engineers, and educators have attended CSF workshops on the topic of using commercial suborbital vehicles, and we are thrilled to see that the R&D community will now be able to get rides to space.”