The firms not mentioned here are just as important as the ones that are, as the privatization of space has just inched closer to reality. Rather than NASA handling ISS resupply chores itself or farming the job out to mega-corps such as Lockheed Martin or Boeing, the agency has instead awarded one contract each to Virginia-based Orbital Sciences (valued at around $1.9 billion) and California's own SpaceX ($1.6 billion). The two will be responsible for 20 service flights between 2009 and 2016, with each trip requiring delivery of "a minimum of 20 metric tons of upmass cargo to the space station." The agreements also call for "delivery of non-standard services in support of the cargo resupply, including analysis and special tasks as the government determines are necessary." So yeah, if FedEx / UPS have been balking at your request to ship to a Martian eBay winner, you now know who to call.

[Via TG Daily]

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NASA taps Orbital Sciences, SpaceX for ISS resupply missions