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NASA Announces Next Steps in Effort to Launch Americans from U.S. Soil
NASA and its Commercial Crew Program today announced new agreements with three American commercial companies to design and develop the next generation of U.S. human spaceflight capabilities, enabling a launch of astronauts from U.S. soil in the next five years.
Advances made by these companies under newly signed Space Act Agreements through the agency's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative are intended to ultimately lead to the availability of commercial human spaceflight services for government and commercial customers.
NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden:
Our commercial crew and cargo efforts are based on a simple but powerful principle. By investing in American companies and American ingenuity, we're spurring free-market competition to give taxpayers more bang for the buck while enabling NASA to do what we do best, reach for the heavens.
Sierra Nevada Corporation will advance its Dream Chaser spacecraft, which resembles NASA's space shuttle but is smaller and based on improvements to the agency's HL-20 lifting-body design. The company partnered with United Launch Alliance to launch its spacecraft atop an Atlas V rocket.
SpaceX's crewed Dragon will get more lift capability from the next-generation of Falcon rockets. The uncrewed version of Dragon recently made history as the first commercially built spacecraft to rendezvous and then berth with the International Space Station.
Boeing will continue to develop its CST-100 spacecraft, which underwent rigorous testing during two previous commercial crew development phases. It too will launch atop an Atlas V.
NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager Ed Mango:
I am very confident in the ability and capability of our three partners under iCap. I believe that we can make great progress with these three partners.
Between now and May 31, 2014, NASA's partners will complete their spacecraft and launch vehicle designs, test their hardware, and then showcase how they would operate and manage missions from launch through orbit and landing.
The agency's CCiCap initiative sets the stage for a crewed orbital demonstration mission to low Earth orbit by the middle of the decade.
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