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Five groups making private space flight a reality

From space tourism to cargo trips to human trips to Mars, these are five key players with the capital, determination, and vision to shape the new path to the final frontier. 

2. Orbital Sciences Corp.

Steve Helber/AP
Orbital Sciences Corp. Antares rocket sits on the launch pad along the beach at the NASA facility on Wallops Island Va.

Less grandiose than its competitor, SpaceX, Orbital Sciences specializes in designing and manufacturing small to mid-size spacecraft for commercial clients and the US  government. Founded in 1982, this publicly-traded company based in Dulles, Va., launched the Pegasus rocket in 1990, the first space-launch vehicle to be funded entirely by private money. To date, Orbital has built “more than 560 launch vehicles and more than 170 satellites,” according to Space.com

In 2008, the company was awarded a $1.9 billion contract from NASA to take eight unmanned cargo missions to and from the International Space Station through 2016, making it the only other private company, aside from SpaceX, to receive such a contract. Its first cargo flight to the ISS was launched Jan. 9, 2014 using the Cygnus spacecraft and transporting 2,780 pounds.

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