NASA awards $10 million in contracts to private space firms
NASA handed out $10 million in contracts this week to seven commercial space companies to boost the space agency's payloads into the upper reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere.
The winners of the two-year contracts included four California companies: Camarillo-based Whittinghill Aerospace, as well as Masten Space Systems, XCOR Aerospace Inc. and Virgin Galactic -- all three of which are based in Mojave.
NASA was not specific on how much of the $10 million each company will receive, or what exactly they will be lifting into sub-orbit. Rather, NASA said in a statement that "the flights will carry a variety of payloads to help meet the agency's research and technology needs."
Other companies selected were Armadillo Aerospace of Heath, Texas; Near Space Corp. of Tillamook, Ore.; and Up Aerospace Inc. of Highlands Ranch, Colo.
Bobby Braun, NASA’s chief technologist, said in a statement: "The government's ability to open the suborbital research frontier to a broad community of innovators will enable maturation of the new technologies and capabilities needed for NASA's future missions in space."
-- W.J. Hennigan
Video: Masten Space Systems, one of seven companies to receive NASA contracts, tests its Xaero rocket vehicle for flight earlier this year. Credit: Masten Space Systems via YouTube