On Wednesday, NASA agreed to cooperate with PlanetSpace Inc. of Chicago and Transformational Space Corp. (t/Space) of Reston, Va., to facilitate the commercialization of low-Earth orbit as they develop capabilities to transport goods and people to orbital destinations.

The non-reimbursable Space Act agreements signed by NASA and the two companies involve no agency funding to the companies. The pacts establish milestones and objective criteria by which the companies can gauge their own progress, as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Program.

Under the agreements, NASA will share information that will help the companies understand projected requirements for space station crew and cargo transportation launch vehicles, spacecraft and NASA human rating criteria.

PlanetSpace and t/Space will work to develop and demonstrate the vehicles, systems and operations needed to transport crews and cargo to and from a low-Earth orbit destination. NASA will acknowledge the companies’ milestone accomplishments.

“NASA is proud to reach agreements with two more private companies dedicating their own resources toward establishment of a robust commercial launch industry,” said Scott Horowitz, NASA associate administrator for Exploration Systems. “By stimulating the growth of commercial space enterprise, NASA will free itself to focus on long-range exploration of the moon and Mars.”

“The importance of these agreements is that they demonstrate the willingness of entrepreneurs to invest their own resources with NASA’s commitment to help develop a whole new sector of the commercial space industry,” said Alan Lindenmoyer, manager of the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office at Johnson Space Center, Houston.

The program administers NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services project. Its overarching goals are to stimulate commercial enterprises in space; facilitate U.S. private industry development of reliable, cost-effective access to low-Earth orbit, and to create a market environment in which commercial space transportation services are available to government and private customers.

Last year, NASA signed funded agreements with Space Exploration Technologies of El Segundo, Calif., and Rocketplane Kistler of Oklahoma City. t/Space was a finalist in that competition.

Once industry has demonstrated safe and reliable capabilities, NASA plans to enter the next phase of the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program and may purchase transportation services from commercial providers to support the International Space Station.

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