NASA intends to devote $75 million in funding over five years for an effort to fly science and education payloads on commercial suborbital vehicles such as those under development by Armadillo Aerospace, Blue Origin, Masten Space Systems and XCOR Aerospace.

NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver announced the U.S. space agency’s financial commitment to its new Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research (CRuSR) program Feb. 17 at the first Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference in Boulder, Colo.

Alan Stern, a former NASA associate administrator for science and current chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s Suborbital Applications Researchers Group, said in a statement NASA’s $15 million annual commitment will “dramatically expand the number of research and education payloads that fly into space.”

The CRuSR money is included in NASA’s 2011 budget request currently before Congress.