NASA Agrees To Let Boeing And SpaceX Create Actual Space Taxis To And From ISS

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NASA announced on Tuesday that Boeing will team up with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to build space taxis that will transport astronauts to the International Space Station.

The spacecraft will replace Russia’s Soyuz capsules, which have been the only way for astronauts to get to the ISS since NASA’s Space Shuttle Program was shut down in 2011.

A combined $6.8 billion has been awarded to the two companies to have the spaceships cleared for use by 2017.

The two companies have already produced the designs, so this money will be used primarily to ramp up production.

At a press conference at the Kennedy Space Center, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said,

Turning over low-Earth orbit transportation to private industry also will allow NASA to focus on an even more ambitious mission – sending humans to Mars.

The proposed designs, Boeing’s CST-100 and SpaceX’s Dragon, will each have seven seats.

SpaceX, run by the CEO of electric car company Tesla Motors, has successfully transported cargo to the ISS but has taken no manned flights yet.

Bolden’s press release promised “the most ambitious and exciting chapter in the history of human space flight” and contained plenty of humor to show how happy he is about these endeavors.

He said,

As a former space shuttle commander, I know that the goal of every mission is to do something different from the flights that have gone before. Alan Shepard earned the title first American in space, John Glenn the first American to orbit Earth. And with all due respect to the late Michael Jackson, Neil and Buzz were the first moonwalkers.

NASA is currently testing Orion, a spacecraft designed to send the first astronauts beyond the moon’s orbit and onto the surface of Mars, the Red Planet.

By the 2020s, Bolden said, Orion will complete the first deep-space missions since the Apollo moon landings.

H/T: Huffington Post, Photo Courtesy: SpaceX

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