Friday, February 12, 2010

Who to Watch In Private Space Taxi Field

By The Associated Press The Associated Press – Sun Jan 31, 8:32 am ET

Here are some leading companies that are or could be developing a private space taxi system to take astronauts to the International Space Station. More firms may join in.

• THE COMPANY: Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif.

THE BASICS: Run by PayPal founder Elon Musk, this company has already built and tested a private rocket, Falcon, and has a capsule, Dragon. It already has a demonstration contract for private cargo with NASA. It is considered a leader in the field and has connections with Google.


• THE COMPANIES: Boeing Co. of Chicago and Bigelow Aerospace of Las Vegas.

THE BASICS: An interesting pairing. Boeing is one of the oldest companies in aerospace with corporate history going back to Mercury missions. Bigelow is a pioneer in the private space business that is developing a commercial space station/hotel. Boeing has its own much-launched rocket family, the Delta, and also is partners with Lockheed Martin Corp. in a firm that launches Delta and Atlas rockets.


• THE COMPANY: Sierra Nevada Corp. of Sparks, Nev.

THE BASICS: A high-tech government contractor that recently bought one of the early private space firms, SpaceDev Inc.


• THE COMPANY: Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va.

THE BASICS: One of the first private space companies. It has its own in-use rocket family, Taurus, which launches from Wallops Island, Va. It also has a demonstration contract for private cargo with NASA.


• THE COMPANY: Lockheed Martin Corp. of Bethesda, Md., or as part of United Launch Alliance of Denver.

THE BASICS: Lockheed Martin had been building the capsule for NASA's moon mission that is being canceled. It is an aerospace giant with a long history in manned space and has its own family of decades-old rockets, the Atlas. It could compete on its own or as part of the United Launch Alliance, which is a joint venture with Boeing that launches unmanned commercial rockets.


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