Tuesday, September 16, 2014
NASA announced today that it's picked Boeing and SpaceX to transport U.S. crews to and from the International Space Station using the CST-100 and Dragon spacecraft, respectively. The goal is to end in 2017 the nation's reliance on Russia for transportation to the ISS. 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. 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. Boeing's contract is for $4.2 billion and SpaceX's is for $2.6 billion. The companies will own and operate the crew transportation systems and be able to sell human space transportation services to other customers in addition to NASA, thereby reducing the costs for all customers. (Source: NASA, 09/16/14) Note: Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans, are both involved in NASA and commercial space programs.