Since You Can't Buy Stock in SpaceX…

June 25, 2016 – 01:42 pm

Investors hoping to buy stock in SpaceX will have to wait, but there are several other companies developing launch vehicles, orbitals, and crew capsules that you can own today.

Company

Space Vehicle/Rocket

First Launch

First Manned Crew

SpaceX

Dragon/Falcon

Orbital Sciences (NYSE: OA )

Cygnus/Antares

Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT )

Orion

2014

2017

Alliant (NYSE: ATK ) & Astrium

Liberty

2015

Boeing (NYSE: BA ) & Bigelow Aerospace

CST-100

Source: Company websites

Orbital Sciences launches its first supply mission to the International Space Station, or ISS, later this week. The company's Antares rocket had a successful demonstration launch earlier this year and will now haul eight Cygnus capsules carrying a total of 20, 000 kilograms of cargo to the ISS between 2013 and 2016. There are some big differences between this capsule and Dragon from SpaceX. Cygnus will not be reusable and will not carry a crew. Instead, the larger capsule will focus on unmanned resupply missions. It will be stuffed full of trash from the ISS and thrown back at Earth where it will burn-up upon reentry.

Lockheed Martin's Orion may not be flying its first manned mission until 2017, but don't discount the space capsule just by looking at the calendar. NASA has high hopes for Orion becoming one of the go-to spacecrafts for transporting humans back to the moon, to asteroids passing by Earth, and eventually to Mars. It remains the largest current project developing a potential interplanetary spacecraft with subcontractors such as Alliant and Honeywell involved in key steps in the process.

Alliant is also developing its own independent Liberty space capsule, which is being developed solely on private funding. The company already has the rocket know-how to get to space: It constructed the solid rocket boosters for NASA's space shuttle fleet. Since there aren't many firms with expertise in placing objects into orbit, subcontractors include familiar faces such as Lockheed Martin and Honeywell (get used to that).

Last but not least, Boeing is quickly developing the CST-100 for flights to the ISS and eventually beyond. The capsule will hold up to seven crew members and will be reusable for up to 10 missions. The company is not creating a novel rocket system for the new craft; instead, it is looking to piggyback on existing infrastructure, including the Falcon 9 from SpaceX. That will enable the company to expedite development, although it will need to contract launch services to partners.


Source: www.fool.com

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