NASA will work with two aeronautical firms, Boeing and SpaceX, in a taxi contract to take astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) in the coming years to perform important science research and other related tasks on ISS. NASA is also thinking to use the same technologies to take astronauts to other places in space such as Mars and asteroids in the future.
This contract would reduce the U.S.’s dependence on Russia to take and bring astronauts to and from the space station. At this time, Russian Soyuz takes at least four astronauts of NASA in a year at the price of $71 million per seat. On the other hand, SpaceX noted the cost $20 million per seat in the future after the success of technological contract.
NASA is planning for the first launch in 2017 from Cape Canaveral with the help of Boeing, and California-based SpaceX, as noted by Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator, in a news conference. Boeing has already helped in developing the space station and space shuttles. SpaceX has helped in carrying supplies to the space station.
NASA will pay about $6.8 billion in total to both aeronautical companies; the agency will give $4.2 billion to Boeing and $2.6 billion to SpaceX, so that they would check their crew capsules to take astronauts to lower orbit of the Earth under the Commercial Crew Program, as told by Kathryn Lueders, Program Manager of Commercial Crew Program. Safety certifications for Boeing’s CST-100 capsule and SpaceX’s Dragon capsule are important for the successful completion of contract. Safety checks include the baseline and design review, flight test and operational readiness review, and certification review.
Elon Musk, founder and chief executive of SpaceX and, and John Elbon, vice president and general manager of space exploration in Boeing, felt happy with this contract.