Virgin Galactic will partner with both Sierra Nevada Space Systems and Orbital Sciences Corp. in their work on commercial space vehicles, Virgin says.
Both Sierra Nevada and Orbital have thrown their hats in the ring for the second phase of NASA’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) programme, designing reusable space vehicles with lifting-wing bodies, capable of runway landings.
As a contributor to the two NASA submissions, Virgin Galactic will market seats on the vehicles to the public and to its existing customer base. Virgin is also looking into the feasibility of its “mothership,” WhiteKnightTwo, to Sierra Nevada and Orbital during their CCDev test flight programs.
Of the five companies awarded seed money in February 2010, Sierra Nevada received the largest chunk -- $20 million of the $50 million allotted for the first round of CCDev – to work on its Dream Chaser space plane. Orbital joined the competition after the awards were made.