NASA Goes Commercial, Signing Manned-Spaceflight Contracts With SpaceX and Boeing

This past Tuesday (September 16, 2014), NASA selected Boeing and SpaceX as the winning commercial contracts for bringing astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS) by 2017. According to YahooNews…

“NASA Administrator Charles Bolden named the winners of the competition at Kennedy Space Center, next door to where the launches should occur in a few years.”

The U.S. retired it’s own Space Shuttle in 2011, and since then has been relying on Russian rockets to bring NASA astronauts to and from space. The Russian Soyuz rocket costs NASA about $71 million per seat, and with NASA sending roughly 4 astronauts to the ISS every year, the costs for manned spaceflight have been stacking up.

Russian Soyuz rocket launch
Russian Soyuz rocket launch

Bolden also added…

“From day one, the Obama administration has made it very clear that the greatest nation on Earth should not be dependent on any other nation to get into space.”

These new contracts will not only be putting American astronauts back on American spacecraft, but will also save NASA about $50 million per seat using SpaceX’s Dragon v2 (Dragon Capsule version 2) and Boeing’s CST-100 capsule.

NASA awarded Boeing a $4.2 billion contract and SpaceX has been awarded a $2.6 billion contract to certify, test and fly their crew capsules. The differing amounts of these two new contracts were based on the bids in each company’s proposal, so it’s possible that Boeing and SpaceX will fulfill the same responsibilities for differing amounts of compensation.

According to Kathy Lueders, NASA’s commercial crew program manager…

“The two contracts call for at least two and as many as six missions for a crew of four as well as supplies and scientific experiments.”

“Deeply honored and appreciative of the trust that NASA has placed in SpaceX for the future of human spaceflight.”

Meet Dragon V2 – SpaceX CEO Elon pulls the curtain off manned Dragon V2 on May 29, 2014 for worldwide unveiling of SpaceX’s new astronaut transporter for NASA. Credit: SpaceX

Meet Dragon V2 – SpaceX CEO Elon pulls the curtain off manned Dragon V2 on May 29, 2014 for worldwide unveiling of SpaceX’s new astronaut transporter for NASA. Credit: SpaceX

Boeing’s vice president and general manager of space exploration John Elbon expressed the company’s gratitude as well, saying…

“Boeing has been part of every American human space flight program, and we’re honored that NASA has chosen us to continue that legacy.”

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