Thursday, January 19, 2006

Following Through On Commercial Space Flight Opportunities.

Back in July 2005, at the Space Frontier Foundation's Return to the Moon Conference, NASA's Chris Shank said the obvious about the Vision for Space Exploration: that it can't be done without contributions from commercial space flight companies. Specifically, Shank announced that the private sector will be asked to fill the role of transporting cargo and crew from Earth to Low Earth Orbit that is currently filled by the shuttle. (See coverage here.)

Following up on that, NASA's Commercial/Crew Project Office recently solicited "proposals for the initial development and demonstration phase of the Commercial Crew/Cargo Project. Under this project, NASA intends to enter into agreements with private industry to develop and demonstrate the vehicles, systems, and operations needed to resupply, return cargo from, and transport crew to and from a human space facility, with the International Space Station providing the representative requirements for such a facility." (Announcement here in Word format.)

NASA isn't the only entity looking for ships to ferry crew and cargo to an orbital space station. Bigelow Aerospace is offering $50 million to anybody who flies five passengers in a spaceship to dock with a Bigelow inflatable space station twice in 60 days before January 10, 2010. (Competition rules here.)

It will be interesting to see which offer shows results first.

-tdr

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