PASADENA: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) will pay more than $1 billion over the next 21 months to three companies to develop commercial spaceships capable of flying astronauts to the International Space Station, the agency said Friday. The lion’s share of the $1.1 billion allotted for the next phase of Nasa’s commercial crew programme will be split between Boeing and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX). Boeing will receive $460 million to develop its CST-100 capsule; intended to fly aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket. SpaceX was awarded $440 million to upgrade its Dragon cargo capsule, the first privately owned spacecraft to reach the $100 billion station that flies 386 kilometres above Earth. Privately held Sierra Nevada Corp received a partial award of $212.5 million for work on its Dream Chaser. All three firms are prior recipients of Nasa space taxi development work. The new awards will more than triple Nasa’s investments in commercial crew programme, which so far total $365 million.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2012.