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NASA on Monday said it signed information sharing agreements with three companies interested in commercial space travel, under a program that will enable the space agency to focus on long-range exploration to the moon and Mars.

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NASA signed unfunded Space Act agreements with SpaceDev Inc. of Poway, Calif.; Houston-based Spacehab Inc.; and Constellation Services International of Laguna Woods, Calif.

Under the pacts, NASA will share information to help the companies understand projected requirements for international space station crew and cargo transportation launch vehicles, spacecraft and human rating criteria.

The program's goals are to aid U.S. industry's development of access to low Earth orbit, and to create a commercial space transportation services market for government and private customers, according to NASA.

The space agency in January signed similar unfunded agreements with Reston, Va.-based Transformational Space Corp. and PlanetSpace Inc. of Chicago, and last year inked funded deals with Space Exploration Technologies of El Segundo, Calif., and Oklahoma City-based Rocketplane Kistler.

After the companies demonstrate safe and reliable systems, in the 2010 time frame, NASA said it may purchase transportation services to supply the international space station.

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