HONG KONG: NASA has selected four US companies to collaborate with the US space agency to develop new space capabilities available to the government and that would eventually see American astronauts return to the Moon and land on Mars.
The firms were selected under NASA’s Collaborations for Commercial Space Capabilities (CCSC ) initiative that aims to advance the agency’s commercial efforts. CCSC will use the experience and the private sector’s infrastructure to attempt to develop new technologies.
developed to help the private space sector improve its integrated space capabilities by allowing these companies access to NASA technologies and resources accumulated since the space agency was organized in October 1958.
The four companies selected were ATK Space Systems (Beltsville, Maryland) that will develop space logistics, hosted payload and other space transportation capabilities; Final Frontier Design (Brooklyn, New York) to develop intra-vehicular activity space suits; SpaceX (Hawthorne, California) to develop space transportation capabilities to support missions to Mars and into deep space and United Launch Alliance (Centennial, Colorado) to develop new launch vehicle capabilities that reduce cost while enhancing performance.
These companies will invest their own capital to achieve innovative commercial space capabilities, according to Phil McAlister, head of commercial spaceflight development at NASA Headquarters. This will demonstrate the diversity and maturity of the U.S. commercial space industry
NASA and these aerospace firms will make these innovations available to the public in the coming years.
NASA hopes these companies will continue to develop services and products that will support the U.S. space program within five years. In the last few years, NASA has ventured into similar public-private agreements that will help its shrinking budget go the extra mile.
Six cargo supply missions have been launched by private firms to the ISS. NASA also aims to transport astronauts under the Commercial Crew Program as Boeing and SpaceX are now developing spacecraft that will take astronauts to the space station and back.
NASA’s newest space program, the Lunar CATALYST, will work with these private aerospace firms to develop a commercial robot lander bound for the Moon.