NASA has selected seven companies to integrate and fly technology payloads on commercial suborbital reusable platforms that carry payloads near the boundary of space and back.
This arrangement marks the first time that NASA has contracted with commercial partners to provide flights into space on a suborbital spacecraft, and represents another important endorsement of the value of regular commercial space access for a wide range of science and educational applications.
As part of NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, each successful vendor will receive an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract. These two-year contracts, worth a combined total of $10 million, will allow NASA to draw from a pool of commercial space companies to deliver payload integration and flight services. The flights will carry a variety of payloads to help meet the agency’s research and technology needs.
“Through this catalog approach, NASA is moving toward the goal of making frequent, low-cost access to near-space available to a wide range of engineers, scientists and technologists,” said NASA Chief Technologist Bobby Braun at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “The government’s ability to open the suborbital research frontier to a broad community of innovators will enable maturation of the new technologies and capabilities needed for NASA’s future missions in space.”
The selected companies are:
- Armadillo Aerospace, Heath, Texas
- Near Space Corp., Tillamook, Ore.
- Masten Space Systems, Mojave, Calif.
- Up Aerospace Inc., Highlands Ranch, Colo.
- Virgin Galactic, Mojave, Calif.
- Whittinghill Aerospace LLC, Camarillo, Calif.
- XCOR, Mojave, Calif.