NASA, Virgin Galactic to explore future co-operation
Rocketeer — Wed, 04/04/2007 - 7:03am
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. - NASA officials signed a memorandum of
understanding Tuesday with a U.S. company, Virgin Galactic, LLC, to
explore the potential for collaborations on the development of space
suits, heat shields for spaceships, hybrid rocket motors and
hypersonic vehicles capable of traveling five or more times the speed
Under the terms of the memorandum, NASA Ames Research Center, located
in California's Silicon Valley, and Virgin Galactic LLC, a U.S.-based
subsidiary of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, will explore
possible collaborations in several technical areas employing
capabilities and facilities of NASA's Ames Research Center.
"As we constantly seek to build upon the advances made by explorers
who have come before us, we now embark upon an exciting time in space
exploration history that realizes the unlimited opportunities
presented by a commercial space economy," said Shana Dale, NASA's
deputy administrator. "By encouraging such potential collaborations,
NASA supports the development of greater commercial collaboration and
applications that will serve to strengthen and enhance the future
benefits of space exploration for all of mankind."
Dale is a longtime supporter of commercial space development. As the
former staff director of the U.S. House of Representatives
Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, she was instrumental in the
passage of the Commercial Space Act of 1998. This legislation
encourages commercial space development in a variety of areas,
including launch vehicles, the International Space Station and the
acquisition of space and Earth science data.
"This understanding with Virgin Galactic affords NASA an opportunity
to work with an emerging company in the commercial human space
transportation industry to support the agency's exploration, science
and aeronautics mission goals," said S. Pete Worden, director of NASA
Ames Research Center. "Our location in California's Silicon Valley
provides a dynamic research and development platform for future
potential collaborations with other such companies in support of a
robust commercial space industry."
"We are excited to be working with NASA and look forward to future
collaborations in exploration and space travel," said Alex Tai, vice
president of operations for Virgin Galactic.
The agreement with Virgin Galactic was negotiated through NASA's Space
Portal, a newly formed organization in the NASA Research Park at
Ames, which seeks to engage new opportunities for NASA to promote the
development of the commercial space economy.
"This new type of private-public partnership can benefit the agency
while helping to foster a new industry," said Dan Coughlin, NASA's
lead for the Virgin Galactic agreement.
The memorandum of understanding will be in effect for two years and
stipulates that neither NASA nor Virgin Galactic will be required to
pay any fees or provide funds to support the areas of possible
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