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Vega Aerospace Corporation is an American

SPACE EXPLORATION TECHNOLOGIES (SPACEX)

Company: SpaceX

Spaceship name: Dragon spacecraft/Falcon 9 rocket.

Number of passengers: 7 maximum, or fewer with a mixture of cargo/crew

Founder(s): Elon Musk, co-founder of PayPal

Founding: 2002

Backing: $100 million of Musk personal fortune, $20 million from investors

Location: Hawthrone, California. Launched from Kennedy Space Center, FL.

Plans to launch: Debut launch tests in 2010, 1st operational flights in 2011.

Contracts: US Govt/NASA.

ORBITAL SCIENCES

Spaceship name: Cygnus/Taurus 2 rocket

Number of passengers: So far, Cygnus is purely unmanned.

Founder(s): David W. Thompson, Bruce W. Ferguson, Scott L. Webster

Founding: 1982

Backing: Publicly traded company, $1.1 billion in revenue.

Location: Dulles, Virginia. Launched from Wallops Island, VA.

Plans to launch: 2011

Contract: NASA (Cargo runs to ISS)

BLUE ORIGIN

Spaceship name: New Shepard

Number of passengers: at least 3 astronauts

Founder(s): Jeff Bazos

Founding: 2004.

Backing: His personal fortune as founder of Amazon.com

Location: Kent, Washington. Testing in Texas.

Plans to launch: Mid-2012

Contract: NASA (astronaut escape system/composite space capsule-commercial)

BIGELOW AEROSPACE

Spaceship name: Sundancer/BA-330/Genesis 1 and 2.

Number of passengers: Sundancer supports crew of 3/BA-330 to support crew of 6.

Founder(s): Robert Bigelow.

Founding: 1999.

Backing: $180 million of his personal fortune, owner of hotels.

Location: North Las Vegas, NV.

Plans to launch: 2015.

Contract: Private space hotels, private moonbase. NASA (7 crew vehicle)

SPACE DEV/SIERRA NEVADA CORPORATION (SPACE DEV)

Spaceship name: Dream Chaser.

Number of passengers: 4 on suborbital flights, up to 6 for orbital flights.

Founder(s): Jim Benson (deceased), now led by Faith Ozmen.

Founding: 1997.

Backing: Sierra Nevada Corp., of Sparks, Nevada

Location: Poway, CA.

Plans to launch: Under development.

Contract: NASA (develop Dream Chaser)

VIRGIN GALACTIC

Spaceship name: SpaceShipTwo.

Number of passengers: 6 passengers, 2 pilots. ($200,000 per seat, tourism)

Founder(s): British billionnaire Sir Richard Branson.

Founding: 2004.

Backing: His personal fortune as founder of Virgin Group

Location: London, England. Spaceport, New Mexico.

Plans to launch: end of 2011/early 2012.

Contract: Private. No NASA funding.

HARDIMAN AEROSPACE

Spaceship name: HAN-IV (HAN 1-3, no longer operational)/LUNA-01 moonbase.

Number of passengers: crew of 6 on HAN-IV.

Founder(s): David Hardiman of Hardiman Corporation.

Founding: 2010s?

Backing: Hardiman’s personal fortune.

Location: ?

Plans to launch: Northstar project, ongoing in 2037.

Contract: Private. No NASA funding.

Notes: Largest privately funded space effort.

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