NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
NASA and its Commercial Crew Program (CCP) announced new agreements today with three American commercial companies to design and develop the next generation of U.S. human spaceflight capabilities, enabling a launch of astronauts from U.S. soil in the next five years. Advances made by these companies under newly signed Space Act Agreements (SAAs) through the agency’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative are intended to ultimately lead to the availability of commercial human spaceflight services for government and commercial customers.
“Today, we are announcing another critical step toward launching our astronauts from U.S. soil on space systems built by American companies,” NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. “We have selected three companies that will help keep us on track to end the outsourcing of human spaceflight and create high-paying jobs in Florida and elsewhere across the country.”
Boeing will receive up to $460 million to continue the development of its CST-100 spacecraft. The company partnered with United Launch Alliance to launch the CST-100 atop an Atlas V rocket.
Sierra Nevada Corp. will receive up to $212.5 million to further advance its Dream Chaser spacecraft, which resembles NASA’s space shuttle but is smaller and based on improvements to the agency’s HL-20 lifting-body design. It too will launch atop an Atlas V.
SpaceX will receive up to $440 million for its crewed Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket combination.
Operating under funded Space Act Agreements (SAAs), the selected companies will spend the next 21 months completing designs, conducting critical risk reduction testing on their spacecraft and launch vehicles, and showcasing how they would operate and manage missions from launch through orbit and landing.
“For 50 years American industry has helped NASA push boundaries, enabling us to live, work and learn in the unique environment of microgravity and low Earth orbit,” said Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “The benefits to humanity from these endeavors are incalculable. We’re counting on the creativity of industry to provide the next generation of transportation to low Earth orbit and expand human presence, making space accessible and open for business.”