Private Space Taxi Builders Ponder Future Beyond NASA
Image: Dragon and Falcon 9 Second Stage, post Second Stage Separation Credit: NASA
Side Note: I think spaceflight companies ought to take SpaceX as a shining example of where their heads ought to be in commercial space flights. It’d be smarter to go about it this way and look for funding outside of NASA considering our government’s space agency does not get as much support or budget raises compared to other organizations and defense budget in the U.S. Looking for outside help, commercializing a large portion of space exploration and incorporating a lot of research into the preparation and actual flights seems more feasible when you consider the severe lack of funding in NASA.
The private spaceflight company SpaceX is poised to launch a robotic capsule toward the International Space Station Saturday (May 19) on a test flight that, if successful, could be a watershed moment for the commercial space industry.
But while SpaceX has a NASA contract to provide cargo deliveries to the space station, the company and other private spaceship developers are looking to a future beyond NASA funding.
The Hawthorne, Calif.-based SpaceX is one of several aerospace firms who are competing for NASA funding under the third and final phase of NASA’s commercial crew development program. Proposals for this stage of the competition, called Commercial Crew integrated Capability(CCiCap), require companies to present a complete launch system — rocket and vehicle — for consideration.
SpaceX intends to use a version of its current cargo ship, the robotic Dragon capsule,to fly up to seven passengers to the International Space Station and other destinations in low-Earth orbit. The spacecraft will launch atop the company’s own Falcon 9 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Private spaceships of tomorrow
SpaceX isn’t alone in the private spaceship game. The company is facing some stiff competition from other aerospace firms, including Boeing and Sierra Nevada Corp. NASA is expected to announce at least two recipients for CCiCap funding awards in August.
Some of the contenders have said they intend to forge ahead with the development of their spacecraft regardless of whether they receive NASA funding or not.