Washington: NASA has agreed to monitor the progress of three more private US firms that are developing new space transportation systems designed to carry cargo and/or astronauts to the international space station (ISS).
The US space agency announced last week that it had signed separate non-reimbursable Space Act Agreements with Constellation Services International (CSI), SpaceDev and Spacehab under which it pledged to provide each of the three with up-to-date technical requirements and specifications for crew and cargo flights to the international space station.
Similar agreements were announced in February with Reston, Va.-based Transformational Space Corp. and Chicago-based PlanetSpace Inc.
"This is a significant development," Scott Horowitz, NASA associate administrator for exploration systems said in a statement. "First there were two, and now there are a total of five private companies cooperating with NASA by dedicating entirely private funding to help establish a robust commercial space transportation industry."
CSI, SpaceDev and SpaceHab all submitted proposals in early 2006 for some of the $500 million NASA plans to spend under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) demonstration programme, subsidising new space station re-supply services. The COTS awards ultimately went to two companies, Rocketplane Kistler and Space Exploration Technologies, but SpaceDev, Spacehab and Transformational Space were among the six finalists.