Seven space companies awarded $10 million for research


Seven companies have been selected to create new vehicles to test the use and recoverability of technology in near space, NASA announced Tuesday.

Each successful vendor will receive a two-year indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract, worth a combined total of $10 million.

The selected companies are: 
Armadillo Aerospace, Heath, Texas 
Near Space Corp., Tillamook, Ore. 
Masten Space Systems, Mojave, Calif. 
Up Aerospace Inc., Highlands Ranch, Colo. 
Virgin Galactic, Mojave, Calif. 
Whittinghill Aerospace LLC, Camarillo, Calif. 
XCOR, Mojave, Calif.

The work is part of NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program at Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif., which fosters the development of commercial  reusable transportation to near space, the region of Earth’s atmosphere between 65,000 and 350,000 feet.

” The program is an example of an innovative teaming relationship with industry to provide affordable access to near space while evaluating the microgravity environment for future science and technology experiments,” NASA spokesman David Steitz said in an e-mail.

Examples might include autonomous landing systems that can guide unmanned cargo vehicles while avoiding hazards like boulders and pits, fuel transfer systems that work in micro-gravity to allow for the refueling of space vehicles while still in orbit, and propulsion engines that may reduce travel time to Mars by half, Steitz said.


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