NASA picks companies to study commercial crew transport
US space agency NASA on Monday named five aerospace companies to come up with concepts for transporting humans into orbit under plans announced by the Obama administration to shift responsibility for transportation into space to private firms, dpa reported.
NASA awarded a total of 50 million dollars to the companies to study human spaceflight alternatives after the retirement of the space shuttle later this year. The money comes from government stimulus funds authorized by Congress to jump-start the faltering US economy last year.
Earlier Monday, the Obama administration said it hoped to ax existing plans for the Constellation programme, to create a new spacecraft and rockets to replace the shuttle and return to the moon. Instead it announced plans for commercial companies to ferry astronauts into low-earth orbit.
The companies are Blue Origin, The Boeing Company, Paragon Space Development Corporation, Sierra Nevada Corporation and United Launch Alliance. The agreements are to develop ideas about carrying crew and investigating future commercial spaceflight.