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NASA Chooses Boeing and SpaceX


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NASA has taken the key step to start launching Americans into space once again from U.S. soil. On Tuesday NASA has announced that they have chosen Boeing and SpaceX to transport astronauts to the International Space Station. Over the next few years both companies will work hand in hand with the U.S. space agency to help end the U.S.’s reliance on Russia to transport astronauts to and from space. Boeing and SpaceX will both receive monetary contracts to work with NASA in order to give rebirth to the American space program.

Capsule EntryNASA 1

NASA held a contest between many of the aeronautical and spacecraft manufacturers to see who would win the bid to jumpstart U.S. space exploration and help ferry U.S. astronauts into space once more. Many manufacturers had entered their own capsule versions hoping to win favor with NASA but only two companies were ultimately chosen. Boeing which has helped to play a major role in U.S. avionics and SpaceX which has recently successfully tested their Dragon model capsules both in space and on Earth for transporting U.S. personnel and supplies back and forth from the International Space Station. NASA has expressed much hope and in the words of NASA Administrator Charles Bolden a sense of “…giddy…” to start sending astronauts from U.S. soil once again.

Launch by 2017

NASA upon announcing that the space agency will be conducting business with Boeing and SpaceX, that the agency has already set a personal goal to have launching missions as early as 2017. NASA will be paying Boeing 4.2 billion dollars and SpaceX 2.6 billion dollars in order to test their space capsules for both safety and flight missions. The base contract is calling for at the very least 2 missions and at the very most as much as 6 missions into space inclusive of shuttling in a crew count of four along with supplies and scientific experiments. NASA has also taken into consideration the importance of the space vehicles to act a lifeboats to the space station should any emergency arise in the future. Since 2011 when NASA retired its shuttle fleet, U.S. astronauts have been riding Russian rockets into the heavens at a cost of 71 million dollars per seat. NASA commits sending 4 astronauts a year into space at the International Space Station. SpaceX has already announced that it will only cost NASA 20 million dollars per seat.

Boeing and SpaceXNASA 2

Leadership in both Boeing and SpaceX have expressed elation upon hearing that announcement that NASA had chosen both of the companies to help shuttle astronauts to and from space. Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla and SpaceX had tweeted on Tuesday, “Deeply honored and appreciative of the trust that NASA has placed in SpaceX for the future of spaceflight.” Boeing’s vice president is quoted to have said “Boeing has been part of every American human space flight program, and we’re honored that NASA has chosen us to continue that legacy.” Both companies will be using their own launching platforms which will be tested by NASA in coming years. Boeing will be launching their CST-100 with an Atlas V rocket whereas SpaceX’s Dragon V2 will be atop their own Falcon 9 rocket.

Boeing’s craft which is known as the CST-100 (Crew Space Transportation) will be undergoing new tests that will inevitably lead the rigorous testing by NASA to help determine if the capsule meets safety standards. Boeing will be using an old hanger in Cape Canaveral and the presence of the company will help boost employment in the area by adding a total of 550 new jobs. Cape Canaveral has been struggling in recent years due to the shutdown of the NASA space flight program in 2011.

Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technology Corporation (SpaceX) has become the first ever private company to successfully launch a spacecraft in 2010 and successfully retrieve it as well. In 2012 the SpaceX Dragon capsule was able to make its first trip to the International Space Station when it successfully delivered supplies. New design implementations have been done to the Dragon or what is now being referred to as the Dragon V2, that has enabled the craft to be able to carry supplies and up to seven astronauts.

NASA as well as Boeing and SpaceX are all very excited to get underway. The companies are very happy to be working under contract with NASA to again jumpstart the U.S.’s space program at a much more cost effective platform. While NASA is understandably excited, the agency has also noted that while they hope to be entertaining missions as soon as 2017, the agency will not forego safety just to hit that date. There has been even more of a recent push to have American launches from U.S. soil in recent months following the growing tension between the U.S. and Russia over involvement by Russia in the Ukraine.

 

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