SpaceX and Boeing Chosen to Taxi NASA Crews into Space
It might have just been a short press conference on your average Tuesday afternoon. But for America’s legions of space-travel enthusiasts, it might as well have been the Fourth of July. NASA officials have confirmed that both SpaceX – Elon Musk’s interstellar relative of Tesla – and Boeing have been awarded significant government contracts to further the development of their NASA-contracted Commercial Crew Program spacecraft, a program which seeks to make space travel to the International Space Station more affordable and accessible through the expertise of private companies. PHOTOS: Oldsmobile's 1956 Golden Rocket is the Earth-Bound Spaceship We've Always Wanted
Over the next three years, SpaceX will receive $2.6 billion and Boeing will receive $4.2 billion to finish development, complete testing, and certify their respective spacecraft. In order to gain certification, the craft must meet a substantial list of criteria as well as complete one space flight with NASA crew members onboard.
SpaceX’s Dragon and Boeing’s CST-100, effectively space taxis, will eventually open the door for more non-astronauts to get the chance to reach outer space — and as the speakers during the conference noted on multiple occasions — without Russian aid. A seat on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft costs around $70 million.
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NASA Administrator Charles Bolden also announced “the nation is going to Mars” quite emphatically, and mentioned information about NASA’s own Orion space program, which looks beyond the ISS and targets deep-space travel.
By 2017, SpaceX and Boeing are expected to complete their demonstration flights to the International Space Station and will eventually complete up to six manned missions to the ISS. SpaceX already sends cargo to the ISS aboard unmanned versions of its Dragon, so if it were a 'space race'...Elon Musk is winning.
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