It’s been a little tricky getting American astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS) since NASA ended its space shuttle program three years ago.
(You can read HTE’s story on that here )
The U.S. has had to rely on the Russians and their Soyuz capsule to ferry American astronauts up and back.
The cost? A mere $70 million per trip. Yikes.
In addition to the hefty price tag, it’s been a little awkward lately since the U.S. and Russia have a pretty tense relationship these days (that unfortunately got more tense after the shuttle program stopped).
On Tuesday, NASA (a government program) awarded contracts to two private companies to take our astronauts to the ISS in the future — basically providing a private space taxi service for astronauts!
One company is Boeing . You may know them for their airplanes, and have likely even flown on one. But they’re much more than that. They’re also the largest aerospace company in the world and already the prime contractor for NASA. They’ll be shuttling astronauts in their CST-100.
The other company is Space Exploration Technologies, known as Space X . They’re relatively new but have already made history as the first private spacecraft to attach to the space station (no people). They’ll be flying the 7-passenger Dragon spacecraft as well as the Falcon 9. HTE did a previous story on Space X that you can read here .
It’s a big deal that private companies are now doing what previously had only been done by NASA. The space shuttles were becoming outdated and these private companies have new innovations, including being able to carry just the astronauts up minus the super heavy supplies.
This will also free-up NASA to focus more on exploring deep space and other planets, something the space shuttle program didn’t do because the International Space Station is in Earth’s orbit.
It won’t be until 2017 that astronauts can catch a ride this way, but Space X is already set to launch this weekend to haul up some cargo.
Would you want to go into space?