Orbital Sciences, SpaceX win NASA transport deals

Orbital Sciences Corp. and Space Exploration Technologies, two small technology companies, have won billion-dollar contracts from NASA to resupply the International Space Station after the space shuttle retires, reports The Washington Post.

NASA has ordered eight flights valued at about $1.9 billion from Orbital, and 12 flights valued at about $1.6 billion from SpaceX.

NASA says the deal is a milestone for the agency as part of its effort to encourage companies to get more involved in space transport and it was seen as a major win for two relatively small firms that beat out the giants of the space industry: Lockheed Martin Corp. of Bethesda and Boeing Co. of Chicago.

Orbital, of Dulles, Va., and SpaceX, of Hawthorne, Calif., were part of a roughly $500 million development program designed to encourage companies to perform the costly and risky work of building rockets to carry cargo to and from the space station, freeing NASA to focus on space exploration.

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