NASA Gives SpaceX, Boeing, Sierra Nevada $1.1 Billion for Next Phase of Spacecraft Development
August 6, 2012 2:32 PM
Both SpaceX and Boeing received full funding, while Sierra Nevada is considered a backup partner that received half funding
NASA has awarded SpaceX, Boeing and Sierra Nevada $1.1 billion over the next 21 months for the next phase of their
spacecraft development projects
To break it down a bit further, Boeing received $460 million, SpaceX received $440 million and Sierra Nevada received $212.5 million for their individual space projects.
The three space companies have already received a chunk of money from NASA in earlier development phases, where Boeing was given $131 million, SpaceX received $475 million from separate NASA programs, and Sierra Nevada has got over $125 million.
Now, NASA has moved into its next phase of spacecraft development called Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap). The goal of this new phase is to design an entire launch system consisting of a launch vehicle, the space taxi capsule and ground operations.
Boeing is working on its
, which can hold seven crewmembers and is ideal for trips to and from the International Space Station (ISS). It reuses current components and architecture from previous capsule designs, meaning NASA can save money when it comes to repairs, and it can launch aboard a variety of rockets. Last year, Boeing chose
the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket
to launch its CST-100 capsule.
"Today's award demonstrates NASA's confidence in Boeing's approach to provide commercial crew transportation services for the ISS," said John Elbon, Boeing vice president and general manager of space exploration. "It is essential for the ISS and the nation that we have adequate funding to move at a rapid pace toward operations so the United States does not continue its dependence on a single system for human access to the ISS."
SpaceX's project is the well-known
, which recently launched atop the company's Falcon 9 rocket to the ISS. It made
the successful trip
in May of this year, delivering supplies to American astronauts at the orbiting space lab. The reusable spacecraft's voyage was a big deal, since it was the first launch of a private company's capsule. It signified the continuance of American space travel, since NASA
retired its space shuttle fleet in 2011 after 30 years
"SpaceX, along with our partners at NASA, will continue to push the boundaries of space technology to develop the safest, most advanced crew vehicle ever flown," said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO.
Sierra Nevada received funding for its Dream Chaser space plane, which looks like a smaller version of the space shuttle. Like Boeing's CST-100, the Dream Chaser will also launch atop an Atlas V rocket.
Both SpaceX and Boeing received full funding, while Sierra Nevada is considered a backup partner that received half funding.
"We're very happy with the award," said Mark Sirangelo, chairman of Sierra Nevada Space Systems. "Obviously, more money would have been great."
The three aim to launch seven crewmembers in each of their vehicles to the ISS in the near future. How near? Boeing wants to launch a crewed demonstration by late 2016 while SpaceX plans to do the same in 2015. Sierra Nevada aims for 2016 or 2017. It's also important to note that these dates are dependent on how much NASA is willing to hand over in later development phases.
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