WASHINGTON — A senior White House space policy expert has left government to take a position with Sierra Nevada Space Systems, one of three companies angling for a NASA contract to deliver crews to and from the international space station.

John Olson left his job as assistant director for space and aeronautics at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) June 7, an administration official confirmed June 10. 

Sierra Nevada spokeswoman Krystal Scordo did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment about Olson’s new job and his responsibilities at the Louisville, Colo.-based space company.

Olson joined OSTP in May 2012 after about eight years with NASA, where he focused on human spaceflight operations, according to his online LinkedIn profile. Olson came to the space agency in 2004 after 13 years with the U.S. Air Force. 

News of his departure from government service was first reported June 6 by the online news and rumors site NASAwatch.com. 

Olson joins Sierra Nevada as NASA prepares to unveil new details about the next round of competition in the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, an effort to fund the private design and development of a crew-carrying space transportation system that could help fill the logistical void left by the end of the space shuttle program.

Sierra Nevada is one of three companies competing for funding in the Commercial Crew Program, which NASA has funded since 2009. The space agency wants at least one company to be ready to carry astronauts to the international space station by 2017. 

Dan Leone is the NASA reporter for SpaceNews, where he also covers other civilian-run U.S. government space programs and a growing number of entrepreneurial space companies. He joined SpaceNews in 2011.Dan earned a bachelor's degree in public communications...