NASA announced earlier today that they have picked two American companies to transport U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station. Boeing and SpaceX will be transporting astronauts to and from the ISS as early as 2017.
Since the dismantling of the U.S. Space Shuttle program, American astronauts have made the round trip courtesy of the Russians and their space program.
“From day one, the Obama Administration made clear that the greatest nation on Earth should not be dependent on other nations to get into space,” NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. “Thanks to the leadership of President Obama, the hard work of our NASA and industry teams, and support from Congress, today we are one step closer to launching our astronauts from U.S. soil on American spacecraft and ending the nation’s sole reliance on Russia by 2017. Turning over low-Earth orbit transportation to private industry will also allow NASA to focus on an even more ambitious mission – sending humans to Mars.”
Both Boeing and SpaceX must complete a NASA certification processes which would certify them to operate human space transportation systems. Boeing would use their CST-100 spaceraft, while SpaceX will transport the astronauts with their Crew Dragon spacecraft.
The Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts are worth $4.2 billion for Boeing, and $2.6 billion for SpaceX. Both companies will have to complete at least one crewed test flight under the direction of one or more NASA astronauts, and upon completion will provide NASA with between two to six crewed missions to the ISS. As this is a public-private partnership, both companies will own and operate their spacecraft and will be able to sell their services aboard these same craft to other customers.
“We are excited to see our industry partners close in on operational flights to the International Space Station, an extraordinary feat industry and the NASA family began just four years ago,” said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “This space agency has long been a technology innovator, and now we also can say we are an American business innovator, spurring job creation and opening up new markets to the private sector. The agency and our partners have many important steps to finish, but we have shown we can do the tough work required and excel in ways few would dare to hope.”
What do you think about NASA’s decision to award the contracts to Boeing and SpaceX? Let us know in the comments below, or on Google+, Facebook, or Twitter.Source: NASA
Featured image courtesy NASA.