WASHINGTON - Through three new Space Act agreements, NASA is expanding cooperation with companies interested in commercializing access to space. The companies are developing capabilities to transport goods and people to low Earth orbit.
NASA signed nonreimbursable Space Act agreements, which do not provide any government funding to the companies, with SpaceDev of Poway, Calif., SPACEHAB of Houston, and Constellation Services International (CSI) of Laguna Woods, Calif. The pacts establish milestones and objective criteria by which the companies can gauge their progress in developing orbital cargo transportation capabilities.
Under the agreements, NASA will share information that will help the companies understand projected requirements for International Space Station crew and cargo transportation launch vehicles, as well as spacecraft and NASA human rating criteria.
SpaceDev, SPACEHAB and CSI will work to develop and demonstrate the vehicles, systems and operations needed to transport cargo to and from a low Earth orbit destination. SpaceDev also will include crew transport in its development program. NASA will acknowledge the companies' milestone accomplishments.
"This is a significant development," said Scott Horowitz, NASA associate administrator for Exploration Systems. "First there were two, and now there are a total of five private companies cooperating with NASA by dedicating entirely private funding to help establish a robust commercial space transportation industry."
"We're pleased to welcome these entrepreneurs to the growing list of companies willing to invest their own resources as NASA encourages development of a whole new sector of the commercial space industry," said Alan Lindenmoyer, manager of the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The program's overarching goals are to stimulate commercial enterprises in space, facilitate U.S. private industry development of reliable, cost-effective access to low Earth orbit and create a market environment in which commercial space transportation services are available to government and private customers. By stimulating the growth of commercial space enterprise, NASA plans to free itself to focus on long-range exploration to the moon and Mars.
Last year, NASA signed funded agreements with Space Exploration Technologies of El Segundo, Calif., and Rocketplane Kistler of Oklahoma City under the program's competition for Commercial Orbital Transportation Services demonstrations. In January 2007, NASA signed unfunded agreements with Transformational Space Corp. (t/Space) of Reston, Va., and PlanetSpace, Inc., of Chicago, which are similar to the three signed today.
After industry has demonstrated safe and reliable capabilities, NASA plans to enter the next phase of the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program and may purchase transportation services from commercial providers to supply the International Space Station.
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