Tuesday, February 02, 2010

NASA Introduces Commercial Space Pioneers

NASA and the White House rolled out a plan today to funnel $50 million of stimulus money into private-sector projects that could lead to the development of spacecraft and technologies aimed at ensuring astronaut safety in a new era of commercial crew transportation.

Blue Origin of Kent, Wash., which was established by Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, will receive $3.7 million to develop a next-generation launch escape system and a crew module for structural testing.

Boeing Co.'s Space Exploration division in Houston will receive $18 million to develop a seven-seat spacecraft that could be launched on a medium-sized rocket.

Paragon Space Development Corp. In Tucson, Ariz., will receive $1.4 million to develop an air revitalization system that could be used on multiple spacecraft.

Sierra Nevada Corp. of Louisville, Colo., will receive $20 million to develop a seven-person spacecraft called Dream Chaser. The spacecraft would be launched on United Launch Alliance Atlas V 402 rockets. The spacecraft is a small lifting body based on the NASA HL-20 design.

United Launch Alliance of Colo., a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing, will receive $6.7 million to develop a emergency detection system that would monitor the performance of Atlas V and Delta IV rockets in flight and trigger a launch abort system in the event of a serious systems failure.

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said the technologies promise to be "game-changers" that could result in the development of several rocket-and-spacecraft systems for commercial; crew transportation.

The proposed move to commercial crew transportation services would be a radical change in national space policy. NASA since its inception in 1958 has been responsible for the design, development and operation of the rockets and spacecraft flown by American astronauts.

Senior NASA leaders will hold a series of four media teleconferences to discuss President Obama's proposed 2011 budget and its impact on NASA science, space operations, exploration and aeronautics programs.

Here's how to listen in:
Starting at 11:30 a.m., click HERE to go to a NASA News Audio page where the media teleconferences will be streamed live.

Here's the line-up:

++11:30 a.m.: NASA Science Directorate.

++12:15 p.m.: NASA Space Operations Directorate.

++1 p.m.: NASA Exploration Systems Directorate.

++1:45 p.m.: NASA Aeronautics Directorate.

Also coming up today:

Six astronauts scheduled to fly on Endeavour amid all this change will arrive at Kennedy Space Center for final preparations for the planned launch Sunday of the first of five final missions before shuttle fleet retirement.

Mission commander George Zamka, pilot Terry Virts and four mission specialists -- Robert Behnken, Nicholas Patrick, Steve Robinson and Kay Hire -- are expected to arrive at the KSC Shuttle Landing Facility around 10:30 p.m.

You can watch the arrival live here in The Flame Trench. Click the NASA TV box on the right side of the page for live coverage.

Endeavour and its astronauts are slated to blast off from launch pad 39A at 4:39 a.m. Sunday. Their mission: To deliver the U.S. Tranquility module and an Italian observation deck dubbed Cupola to the International Space Station.


Graham (england) said...

One firm does this one does that,it'll end up that one won't tell the other what it's doing and people WILL GET KILLED.Safety will be compromised,i said it'll end in tears mark my words .!

WordsmithFL said...

What a crock ... Seventeen astronauts have died under NASA.

It's a risky business. I hope no one ever loses their lives. But to suggest that the private sector will lose lives while NASA will not simply flies in the face of history.

Anonymous said...

Could someone in the 'news' please do a little research on these companies??!!? Oh, like campaign contributions.

See story: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2010/jan/27/what-gibbons-ozmen-relationship-tells-us-about-nev/

WordsmithFL said...

The Nevada link has zero to do with NASA or Obama.

Graham (england ) said...

Read the words.! i'm not suggesting that .!Yes nasa has lost lives.(and hero's and heroines every one of them).!! But when you have private companies competing with one another, safety very often gets put on the back burner. Oh and i'm NOT a crock thankyou.