Tue Mar 28, 2017 | 00:35
NASA funds commercial spaceships
Wed, 20 Apr 2011 17:35:07 GMT
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NASA says it has funded a number of companies to build commercial spaceships for carrying astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration distributed more than USD 269 million among several vying companies such as Boeing, and Sierra Nevada Corp., Reuters reported.

Boeing received USD 92.3 million, Sierra Nevada Corp. got USD 80 million, Space Exploration Technology was awarded USD 75 million and Blue Origin won a contract worth USD 22 million.

Also known as SpaceX, Space Exploration Technology is planning for an initial public offering next year, said the Internet entrepreneur and founder of the company Elon Musk.

The companies were competing for the next round of funding in NASA's Commercial Crew Development program, which aims to develop a US commercial alternative to take astronauts to and from the ISS after the country's space shuttles are retired later this year.

Russia has already taken over the flights at a price of USD 51 million per person, which is expected to increase to USD 63 million in 2014.

"We're committed to safely transporting U.S. astronauts on American-made spacecraft and ending the outsourcing of this work to foreign governments," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement.

"These agreements are significant milestones in NASA's plans to take advantage of American ingenuity to get to low-Earth orbit so we can concentrate our resources on deep space exploration."

According to acting director of NASA's Commercial Spaceflight Development Philip McAlister, the selected companies were chosen from a pool of 22.

"At this stage of the game, competition is a very important part of our strategy," he told reporters during a conference call. "We also believe that having skin in the game is important."

The companies are expected to invest their own resources in addition to government funds and the agreement covers work for about 14 months.

NASA hopes to launch another competition for developing an actual flight system. The agency aims to buy commercial orbital space transportation services by 2015.

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