NASA to bankroll private space efforts

NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative has awarded more than $1.1 billion to three companies to develop craft to transport crew and supplies from Earth to the International Space Station in low-Earth orbit.

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The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Admin. (NASA) announced on Aug. 3 agreements with three American commercial companies to design and develop the next generation of U.S. human spaceflight vehicles, enabling a launch of astronauts from U.S. soil within 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 ultimately to yield human spaceflight services for government and commercial customers. CCiCap partners and funding levels are Sierra Nevada Corp. (Louisville, Colo.), $212.5 million; Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX, Hawthorne, Calif.), $440 million; and The Boeing Co., (Houston, Texas), $460 million.

CCiCap is an initiative of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) and an Obama Administration priority. CCP’s initial objective is crew transportation capability to and from the International Space Station and low Earth orbit. The new CCiCAP agreements follow two previous initiatives by NASA to spur the development of transportation subsystems, and represent a new phase in which industry partners develop crew transportation capabilities as fully integrated systems. Between now and May 31, 2014, NASA’s partners will perform tests and will mature integrated designs. This will set the stage for crewed orbital demonstration missions to low Earth orbit by the middle of the decade.

NASA also is developing the Orion Multi­Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) and Space Launch System (SLS), a crew capsule and heavy­lift rocket for crewed missions across the solar system.