NASA announced today it would dole out a billion dollars to three newspace firms in an effort to accelerate development of a man-rated spacecraft. And without further
adieu ado, the winners are:
Popular Mechanics— Boeing: NASA awarded the aerospace giant the largest slice of the prize ($460 million) to build its CST-100 capsule. It’s the largest company on the list, which probably didn’t hurt, since one of the mandates of the CCiCap initiative. Boeing is also partnered with Lockheed Martin in United Launch Alliance; ULA builds the Atlas V rocket that will blast not only Boeing’s but also Sierra Nevada’s spacecraft into orbit.
SpaceX: No surprise that SpaceX got a big chunk of NASA dollars ($440 million); Elon Musk’s firm has been out ahead of the other private space companies. This year it became the first company to privately launch into space and dock with the International Space Station. It was also the first to put a capsule into orbit and then return it to the Earth.
Sierra Nevada: The firm behind the Dream Chaser space plane got the “half award,” or $212.5 million. They should start testing it sometime this year.
The losers? Pretty much everyone else. At least for this round. And speaking of losers, I’m happy for this, I have friends in the industry and see newspace as the only viable forward on any timescale involving the remaining life spans of people my age. But it didn’t go unnoticed that I’m in the pit of Texas in the hellish August heat working a dead-end job for minimum survival peanuts while incredibly exciting and inspirational things are happening elsewhere.