Monday, April 18, 2011

Big step for private space

WASHINGTON -- NASA has awarded four Space Act Agreements in the second round of the agency's Commercial Crew Development (CCDev2) effort. Each company will receive between $22 million and $92.3 million to advance commercial crew space transportation system concepts and mature the design and development of elements of their systems, such as launch vehicles and spacecraft.

The selectees for CCDev2 awards are:
-- Blue Origin, Kent, Wash., $22 million
-- Sierra Nevada Corporation, Louisville, Colo., $80 million
-- Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), Hawthorne, Calif., $75 million
-- The Boeing Company, Houston, $92.3 million

COMMENT: It makes sense, if the private guys can prove their abilities, for NASA to hand off the regular (space flight is never "routine") task of Earth-to-LEO transportation. But NASA, then should be DOING something besides designing a heavy rocket with no payloads. Not their fault. Congress' fault. Eighty percent of the exploration budget is earmarks - written so as to avoid the technical definition of "earmark." Sad.

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