Private Firm Space Race Heats Up

Antares sizeNASA has encouraged American private spaceflight companies to develop spacecraft to fill the void left by the retirement of the Space Shuttles.

Orbital Sciences Corporation (www.orbital.com) is no stranger to the space program, having long been a player in the satellite delivery vehicle business. Orbital recently announced, via their website, a launch date for their Antares vehicle on a demonstration mission. Launch date for the Antares Test Flight (A-One Test Mission) is scheduled in a time frame of April 16 – 18, 2013. The demonstration mission is the final operational step in preparing to deliver payloads to the International Space Station under the NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation System (COTS) agreement Orbital holds a contract valued at $1.9 billion under this agreement.

SpaceX also holds a contract of $1.6 billion and currently has their Dragon capsule,  that was launched via their Falcon rocket, docked with the ISS. SpaceX is currently developing a manned vehicle to ferry astronauts back and forth form the ISS.

Other players in the private “space race” are Boeing Corporation and Sierra Nevada Corporation, who are both in development of manned delivery vehicles.

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