August 25

While Earthdwellers cast their eyes to Mars this week and waited for news from NASA’s Curiosity, lots of action took place closer to home, where the commercial space market has seen progress from every direction. We’ve rounded up a short summary of what happened back on the home planet.

Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser spacecraft team held its Program Implementation Plan Review in Colorado this week, the first milestone in its CCiCap list.

SpaceX completed its COTS (Commercial Orbital Transport Services) agreement this week with a certification from NASA, clearing the way for SPX-1, its first standard cargo flight to the International Space Station.

Orbital Sciences was also slated to fly its Antares rocket for the first time in early October, but there’s no word yet on whether the traffic jam that’s holding up SpaceX will bump them again. Antares is Orbital’s COTS vehicle and a competitor of SpaceX’s Falcon. It has been delayed several times due to launchpad construction at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) on Wallops Island, Virginia.

XCOR Aerospace announced this week that they’ll build a new spacecraft factory in Brevard County, Florida, to build its Lynx 2-person suborbital spacecraft. Lynx takes off and lands horizontally and requires a runway, which in Florida means the Shuttle’s landing strip at Kennedy Space Center.

via As commercial space race intensifies SpaceX, Virgin find they have company | Ars Technica.