NASA has awarded contracts to American companies Masten Space Systems, Paragon Space Development Corp., Up Aerospace Inc. and Virgin Galactic to integrate and fly technology payloads on commercial suborbital reusable platforms that carry payloads near the boundary of space.
“We’ve made tremendous progress in working toward the goal of regular, frequent and predictable access to near-space at a reasonable cost with easy recovery of intact payloads,” said Michael Gazarik, associate administrator for Space Technology at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “These proven flight service providers will allow for payloads from organizations including NASA, industry, academia, and other government agencies to be tested on flights to the edge of space before being committed to demonstration in the harsh environment of space itself.”
Each extendable three-year contract is worth at least $100,000. Through these contracts, NASA will provide frequent flight opportunities for technology payloads on suborbital platforms. These planned investments are addressing high priority challenges for achieving safe and affordable deep space exploration.