NASA has doled out a total of $1.4 billion in the past two years to firms developing crewed vehicles. The agency wants at least two crewed commercial spaceships to be up and running by 2017; until then, the United States will remain dependent on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to provide this orbital taxi service.
The progress has been faster on the cargo front, with California-based SpaceX completing the first of 12 contracted supply flights to the International Space Station with its robotic Dragon capsule last month. NASA has also inked a resupply deal with Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corp., which aims to launch a demonstration mission to the orbiting lab in the coming months.
Romney's campaign team released a space policy paper in late September. The eight-page document pledges to ensure that the United States remains the world leader in space exploration and space capabilities.
But Romney and running mate Paul Ryan, a congressman from Wisconsin, offer few details about how they would accomplish their broad, overarching goals. Specifics will be drawn up later, after the election, they say.