6 Private Companies That Could Launch Humans Into Space | Space.com
By Stuart Fox, Space.com, Posted 06/04/10
"The era of private spaceflight is breaking new ground with the first test launch of the new Falcon 9 rocket by the company Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), which hopes to use the booster to fly its Dragon spaceship on space station trips. And with NASA's space shuttles retiring this year, SpaceX is not alone in the bid to launch cargo and astronauts into space. NASA has tapped SpaceX and another company – Virginia's Orbital Sciences – to build unmanned cargo ships to stock up the International Space Station after its final two shuttle missions fly later this year. SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket is poised to make its first test flight this weekend (now it's today).
After that, the agency plans to modify the Lockheed Martin-designed Orion capsule as a space station lifeboat. Aerospace juggernaut Boeing is also hoping to compete for commercial crew capabilities. But while giants like Lockheed Martin and Boeing duke it out, some smaller – but equally ambitious – companies have joined SpaceX in the race to build the next spacecraft to put Americans in space. Here's a look at six smaller companies vying for the future of human spaceflight." See the whole article (above) for a profile of 6 companies that could launch humans into space.