NASA has chosen a dozen companies to provide commercial launch services for relatively small-scale space missions over the next five years, including two ventures with Washington state connections.
Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture and Seattle-based Spaceflight Inc. will be eligible for shares of the $300 million that’s been set aside for fixed-price contracts under a program known as NASA’s Venture-Class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare Missions, or VADR.
Although Blue Origin’s corporate headquarters are in Kent, Wash., NASA is listing Blue Origin Florida as one of its VADR choices. That reflects the fact that orbital launches would be conducted from Florida using the company’s New Glenn rocket, which is still under development. Spaceflight Inc., meanwhile, specializes in organizing rideshare missions that make use of other companies’ rockets.
VADR is a successor to NASA’s Venture Class Launch Services program, and focuses on launching payloads ranging from CubeSats no bigger than a shoebox to somewhat larger spacecraft that are built for risk-tolerant Class D missions.