By William Atkins
NASA announced Tuesday, September 16, 2014, that it has selected Boeing and SpaceX as their commercial partners to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station and other locations in low-Earth orbit.
Boeing will use its CST-100 capsule and SpaceX will use its Dragon spacecraft in their new ventures to end the United States reliance on Russia to send our astronauts into space.
According to the NASA feature article "NASA Chooses American Companies to Transport U.S. Astronauts to International Space Station" Charles Bolden, the head of NASA, stated, "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."
Bolden adds, "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."
Further, "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."
The two companies -- Boeing and SpaceX -- will be providing their capsules and services to NASA under the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts.
In order to meet their contract both companies will have to prove to NASA that they are capable of transporting humans to and from space. They will be first certified for human space transportation.
Once certified, both companies will be allowed to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station and return them back to Earth.
The value of these contracts are the following:
- The Boeing Company (Boeing), based in Houston, Texas: $4.2 billion
- Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX), headquartered in Hawthorne, California: $2.6 billion
Page two continues with more on this story.
According to the before-mentioned NASA article, "The contracts include at least one crewed flight test per company with at least one NASA astronaut aboard to verify the fully integrated rocket and spacecraft system can launch, maneuver in orbit, and dock to the space station, as well as validate all its systems perform as expected."
And, "Once each company’s test program has been completed successfully and its system achieves NASA certification, each contractor will conduct at least two, and as many as six, crewed missions to the space station. These spacecraft also will serve as a lifeboat for astronauts aboard the station."
NASA is promoting their new partnership with Boeing and SpaceX with the logo "Launch America: Commercial Crew Transportation, the Mission is in Sight"
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