Significant milestonesIn August 2006, NASA announced that it would be give a combined total of about $500 million to SpaceX and Rocketplane Kistler to help fund the development of reliable, cost-effective access to low-Earth orbit and, in particular, to demonstrate the vehicles, systems, and operations needed to support a human facility such as the International Space Station. Payments to each company were to be incremental and based upon the partners' progress against a schedule of agreed performance milestones.
O n December 8, 2010, SpaceX successfully launched its Dragon capsule atop a Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral. The craft separated about 10 minutes after launch, reaching its 300km-high orbit shortly after. After completing several maneuvers in orbit, the capsule splashed down in the Pacific. SpaceX thus became the first private launch company to place a vehicle in Earth orbit. In May 2012, a Dragon capsule became the first commercial spacecraft to dock with the ISS before returning to a successful splashdown on Earth.
In August 2012, NASA announced that it would be giving further funding of $440 million to progress the design of the Dragon capsule to include life-support systems and develop a safety system so that the capsule could return to Earth in the event of a failure of its Falcon launch vehicle. At the same time NASA also announced that it would provide further funding to two other aerospace companies – Sierra Nevada and Boeing – to develop their manned spacecraft, known as Dream Chaser and CST-100 (see Boeing), respectively.
Related category AEROSPACE AND RELATED COMPANIES
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