Taxi! Hawthorne Company Could Give Astronauts a Lift

The Obama administration's new budget, hot off the presses, has a special place for private space companies like SpaceX in Hawthorne.

The proposed budget includes billions of dollars to help outsource space travel for NASA -- or as The Associated Press put it, "Uncle Sam would buy its astronauts a ride into space just like hopping in a taxi."

Hailing a cab into space isn't as far fetched as it may sound, the AP reported:

Proponents of private space, an idea that has been kicking around for nearly 20 years, point to the airline industry in its infancy. Initially the Army flew most planes. But private companies eventually started building and operating aircraft, especially when they got a guaranteed customer in the U.S. government to deliver airmail.

SpaceX has already been tapped to resupply the International Space Station when the Space Shuttle retires in 2010. The company has a Falcon rocket and Dragon capsule. Other companies being mentioned include Orbital Sciences of Dulles, Va., Bigelow Aerospace of Las Vegas and Sierra Nevada Corp. of Sparks, Nev.

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