Nasa plans to buy rides for astronauts

2011-09-21 11:26

Florida - Nasa plans to spend $1.6bn over the next two years bolstering industry efforts to develop space taxis, officials said on Monday.

The US space agency will be looking for complete systems - launchers, spaceships, mission operations and ground support - to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station by the middle of the decade, a draft solicitation released on Monday shows.

The money will supplement investments that private companies are making to develop commercial space transportation services.

President Barack Obama has requested $850m for Nasa's so-called Commercial Crew initiative for the year beginning October 1.

The senate appropriations committee last week offered $500m.

With the US space shuttles retired, the United States is dependent on Russia to fly its astronauts to the space station, a $100bn project of 16 nations that orbits about 360km above Earth.

Russia charges more than $50m a person, including training and support services.

A Russian cargo ship failed last month to reach orbit after a launch accident, exposing the vulnerability of having only one way for crew to fly to the space station.

The Progress rocket, which was carrying a cargo capsule of food and fuel, and the Soyuz booster that carries crew use nearly identical upper-stage motors.

China, the only other country that has flown people in orbit, is not a member of the space station program.

"Right now, we have a single-string failure for a $100bn national lab," Nasa's commercial spaceflight development director, Phil McAlister, said at an industry briefing in Florida on Friday, referring to the reliance on one option to transport crew to the space station.

"Every year we do not have a commercial crew capability, the station is at risk," he said.

Nasa expects to award multiple contracts for the third phase of its commercial crew development work next year. The contracts would begin in July 2012 and conclude in April 2014.

The solicitation is due to be released before the end of the year.

Nass is now supporting spaceship development by four firms - Boeing, Space Exploration Technologies, Sierra Nevada Corp and Blue Origin, a privately funded aerospace company set up by Amazon's Jeff Bezos.

The contracts are worth a combined $269m.

Also on Monday, Nasa added $46m to its current commercial crew programme, allotting an extra $25.6m for Sierra Nevada and $20.6m for Boeing for additional work on their spaceships.

Read more on:    nasa  |  us  |  russia  |  space travel

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

linking and moving

2015-04-22 07:36 publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Millions of plastic particles in our food!

Scientists and researchers believe that almost five million tons of plastic is dumped in the oceans every year and it’s affecting our food.



Plastic on your plate
Prince George the green prince?
Lean, green, drifiting machine
One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

Trying to keep time for your social commitments and friendships as well as taking care of work and health obligations can be more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.