By Associated Press - Saturday, September 13, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Two of the three companies competing for more than $3 billion to launch “space-taxi” flights have ties to southern New Mexico’s Spaceport America, the Albuquerque Journal reported ( Saturday.

SpaceX, Boeing Co. and a rocket-system supplier for Virgin Galactic are vying for the lucrative contract to take astronauts to the International Space Station by 2017 in space taxis.

Spaceport is where Virgin Galactic plans to launch its first space-tourism flights at a cost of $200,000 per person. Sierra Nevada Corps., which provides rockets for suborbital tourist trips on Virgin Galactic, has plans for a shuttle-like orbiter. It previously was granted $219.5 million from NASA.

SpaceX also has a contract with Spaceport America to test its reusable rocket. Elon Musk, the company’s founder and the entrepreneur behind Tesla Motors, has previously spoken of his dream to colonize Mars. The SpaceX Dragon V2 capsule was awarded $400 million by NASA previously. Musk declined via email to discuss SpaceX’s chances in winning the contract.

Boeing has a history with the U.S. space program. The company’s concept of a CST-100 crew capsule already received $480 million in NASA funding in 2012.

“Boeing is the safe choice, SpaceX is the exciting choice and Sierra Nevada the interesting choice,” said Loren Thompson, an analyst with the Arlington, Virginia-based Lexington Institute research group.

The Boeing and SpaceX proposed capsules each can fit seven people, but their technology is different.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is expected to announce the award of the contract later this month. NASA officials, however, say they may choose more than one company.


Information from: Albuquerque Journal,

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