In pictures: 20 key NASA projects in 2009

From the space shuttle and Mars mission to water on the moon and ice on the Earth, NASA has its hands in a variety of critical projects

Commercial space development part 2: NASA this year said it would offer $50 million in stimulus money to further develop private commercial spacecraft. NASA said its Commercial Crew and Cargo Program looks to develop and demonstrate safe, reliable, and cost-effective capabilities to transport cargo to low-Earth orbit and eventually send a crew to the International Space Station. By maturing "the design and development of commercial crew spaceflight concepts and associated enabling technologies and capabilities," the program will let several companies move a few steps towards the ultimate goal of commercial human spaceflight to orbit, NASA said.

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