Private Firms Hope to Haul NASA's Space Cargo

And US agency wants their help
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2008 1:10 PM CDT
In this photo provided by NASA, Space shuttle Atlantis stands ready in the foreground, with Endeavour at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Saturday, Sept. 20, 2008.   (AP Photo/NASA, Troy Cryder)
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(Newser) – Hauling crew and equipment between earth and the international space station is expensive work, and NASA is looking to private entrepreneurs to pick up some of the slack, the Washington Post reports. Among the front-runners is Elon Musk, a founder of Paypal, who has seen his three prototype shuttles crash before they could make it into orbit.

But Musk is confident that his company, SpaceX, will be able to reliably reach space by the end of 2010. NASA sees private space enterprise as a boon, since it would allow them to focus on real exploration—and chilled relations with Russia mean the US may not always have its help ferrying cargo to the space station.