NASA Funds Studies on Commercializing Earth Orbit

The Cygnus cargo craft slowly departs the space station after its release from the Canadarm2 robotic arm. (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — In an ongoing effort to foster commercial activity in space, NASA has selected 13 companies to study the future of commercial human spaceflight in low-Earth orbit, including long-range opportunities for the International Space Station.

The studies will assess the potential growth of a low-Earth orbit economy and how to best stimulate private demand for commercial human spaceflight. The portfolio of selected studies will include specific industry concepts detailing business plans and viability for habitable platforms, whether using the space station or separate free-flying structures. The studies also will provide NASA with recommendations on the role of government and evolution of the space station in the process of transitioning U.S. human spaceflight activities in low-Earth orbit to non-governmental enterprises.

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A Closer Look at National Space Council User’s Advisory Group Nominees


So, I finally had a chance to go through folks that Vice President Mike Pence nominated to serve on the National Space Council’s Users Advisory Group.

Below is my attempt to break down the 29 nominees by category. It’s far from perfect because several of them could easily be listed under multiple categories. But, here’s my best shot at it.

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Commercial Space Partners Complete 8 More Milestones


NASA PR — NASA’s industry partners continue to make good progress in maturing designs and development of their commercial crew transportation systems under CCDev2. During the past two months, eight milestones were completed by Sierra Nevada, SpaceX, Boeing, United Launch Alliance, Alliant Techsystems, Inc., and Excalibur Almaz, Inc. This brings the total number of completed milestones under CCDev2 to 34 of the 62 planned. Each of these milestone accomplishments brings the United States one step closer to ending the gap in America’s human access to space.

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Bids in for CCDev 2: Boeing, Orbital Sciences, SpaceX, Sierra Nevada and Virgin Galactic

Boeing's proposed commercial capsule.
Artist's conception of Boeing's commercial crew module. (Credit: Boeing)

Bids were submitted to NASA yesterday for phase 2 of the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program, the space agency’s effort to field commercial crew launchers and spacecraft to service the International Space Station.  At stake is about $200 million in contracts that will be awarded in March.

According to press releases and media reports, the bids include Boeing’s CST-100 crew transport, SpaceX’s Falcon 9/Dragon system, Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser shuttle, and a new lifting-body vehicle from Orbital Sciences Corporation. Media reports indicate that Virgin Galactic has partnered with both Sierra Nevada and Orbital Sciences in separate bids.

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