Here’s some exciting space news that doesn’t involve Matt Damon or Neil Degrasse Tyson: NASA has just received its second order which will bring SpaceX and Boeing together for significant spaceflight to the International Space Station (ISS) from U.S. soil by U.S. astronauts. The specifics will be worked out in time, as this project has until late 2017 for any true finalization. Vehicles used for transport will be manufactured, tested, and certified for safety requirements during these two intermediate years.
This order – the second from a series of four guaranteed orders – will directly impact relations between the Houston-based company, Boeing, and the California-based company, SpaceX, ultimately bringing everyone together under Commercial Crew Transportation Capability contracts. (It’s safe to say as a native Houstonian and NASA/Boeing-child, I’m certainly very excited!)
The manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, Kathy Lueders, gave this statement: “It is important to have at least two healthy and robust capabilities from U.S. companies to deliver crew and critical scientific experiments from American soil to the space station throughout its lifespan.”
This Commercial Crew Program will also help reduce the costs of spaceflight, allowing for more NASA astronauts to get their chance at flying on board a safe, new structure from the home base of, well, home, rather than another country. Currently, the U.S. space program is almost entirely reliant on Russian aid to transport astronauts and equipment to and from ISS.
The fact that scientific research and exploration will become capable from two U.S. companies is the real prize here. And it’s all a very near and real mission as Boeing continues to experiment and SpaceX continues along its time line with development progression on the Crew Dragon spacecraft and the Falcon 9 rocket. (A note from Houston: Along with housing Boeing, we’re also one of the planned cities to house a spaceport in the distant future!)
How great would it be to see lift offs from U.S. soil again? Share your excitement about this space news with us below!
Image Credit: NASA