From NASA's press release, dated today:
"NASA officials signed a memorandum of understanding Tuesday with a U.S. company, Virgin Galactic, LLC, to explore the potential for collaborations on the development of space suits, heat shields for spaceships, hybrid rocket motors and hypersonic vehicles capable of traveling five or more times the speed of sound. Under the terms of the memorandum, NASA Ames Research Center, located in California's Silicon Valley, and Virgin Galactic LLC, a U.S.-based subsidiary of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, will explore possible collaborations in several technical areas employing capabilities and facilities of NASA's Ames Research Center."
COMMENT: This is smart thinking on NASA's part. The agency is not getting, and apparently is not going to get, the funding it needs to develop all the technology needed for future exploration. Collaboration is a must. It's also a welcome change from the days when Dan Goldin was NASA's administrator and dismissed private space efforts as a joke.