The Year of Commercial Space Flight

This past year marked a turning point in the human exploration of space. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) decommissioned the Space Shuttle program and, in its place, announced funding to go to three private companies to develop spacecraft to carry American astronauts into space.

In 2012, $1.1 billion was divided among Boeing, SpaceX, and Sierra Nevada Corp.

Boeing received $460 million toward development of the CST-100, designed to be a reliable, low-cost transport for astronauts. It will be operational in 2015.

SpaceX obtained $440 million for its Dragon spacecraft, which made history by being the first privately owned spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station (ISS).

Sierra Nevada received just over $200 million to continue work on its Dream Chaser spacecraft, which is functionally similar to the Space Shuttle.

NASA provided the funding to these companies under its Commercial Crew Program (CCP). The CCP is intended to develop commercial alternatives for carrying astronauts into low Earth orbit and to the ISS.

About the Author:

Phil Monkress operates All Points Logistics, a firm that provides management and technological support services to government agencies and their contractors.

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