Spaceflight Now: Breaking News

SpaceDev, Boeing head commercially to deep space
Posted: Feb. 2, 2000

Artist's concept of SpaceDev's CHIPSat satellite being launched. Photo: SpaceDev
SpaceDev Inc., the world's first commercial space exploration and development company, and The Boeing Company, the world's largest aerospace company, announced Tuesday that they have teamed together to investigate opportunities of mutual strategic interest in the commercial deep-space arena.

Under terms of an agreement recently approved by the companies, the Boeing Space and Communications Group will team with SpaceDev's Space Missions Division to investigate a variety of small, low-cost, deep-space mission initiatives formulated by SpaceDev.

In coming months, technical and corporate staff from each company will further refine and advance SpaceDev's concept of commercial missions to the Moon, Mars and near-Earth asteroids, involving micro-spacecraft of 250 kg mass. The effort also includes a global assessment of the market potential for such missions, and a technical and programmatic assessment of launch-vehicle options for such missions.

"I believe that the next major 'New New Thing' will be the no-holds barred, explosive opening of space by the private sector and the convergence of space with the Internet, providing huge amounts of unique content and the largest Internet audience delivery mechanism to date," said Jim Benson, SpaceDev Chairman and CEO.

"We are very pleased that Boeing has decided to join us in looking at the business case for trailblazing missions to commercially and scientifically explore the territory of the inner solar system. We look forward to working with the experienced Boeing team to help get these unique and historic missions off the ground," Benson said.

SpaceDev has been refining the design of its commercial Near Earth Asteroid Prospector (NEAP) mission since 1997 and started offering commercial, fixed-price Mars probe-carrier and Moon orbiter missions with real-time streaming video last year. In November 1999 the company competitively won a contract from University of California, Berkeley to design, build, integrate, test and operate the CHIPSat astronomy micro-spacecraft, NASA's first University-Class Explorer (UNEX) mission to proceed into the implementation phase.

Commenting on the agreement with SpaceDev, Rick Stephens, Boeing vice president and general manager for Reusable Space Systems, said, "Boeing recognizes the potential for the commercial exploration of space and we applaud SpaceDev's entrepreneurial efforts in paving new inroads in this emerging market area. This collaborative effort will allow us to substantiate the projected market demand for commercial deep-space missions and jointly develop future market-driven solutions to meet this demand."

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