Nasa contractors and European space agency Astrium have produced the space taxi. The space taxi could start working by the year 2017.
The US space agency is funding space taxi design work at four firms – Boeing, Space Exploration Technologies, Sierra Nevada Corp, and Blue Origin, a start-up owned by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos.
Nasa is reviewing bids for at least two, 21-month integrated design contracts, valued at $300 million to $500 million apiece.
ATK, which built the space shuttle booster rockets, teamed with Astrium, an EADS company that is one of the manufacturers of Europe’s Ariane 5 rockets, to bid for Nasa space taxi development funds last year but was not selected. The company continued to work on the project with its own funding, said Kent Rominger, a five-time shuttle astronaut who now serves as an ATK vice president and Liberty programme manager.
ATK’s new proposal adds a composite seven-person capsule, a launch escape system, propulsion module, avionics, an operations plan and other components for a complete space launch system.
Mr Rominger said Liberty could be ready to fly crew to the station in 2015 for less than what Russia charges for rides in its Soyuz capsules.
The Liberty rocket’s first stage would be an extended space shuttle booster rocket, a design originally developed under Nasa’s now-cancelled Ares 1 rocket programme.
Liberty’s second-stage engine would be provided by Astrium. The newly announced capsule, also named Liberty, is a composite spaceship developed by Nasa as a potential alternative to the Orion deep-space capsule.