STATES CHRONICLE – NASA has booked more astronaut departures to the International Space Station aboard crafts built by SpaceX. NASA is bound to use space taxis developed by SpaceX and Boeing. On January 3rd, NASA has announced that they decided to have four crew rotation flights to ISS. The crafts will pertain to SpaceX and Boeing being part of the Commercial Crew Program of the space agency.
NASA officials have stated that the award is bound to cause the rise in the number of flights which were demanded from each supplier to six. They have also pointed out that all these missions need to be approved after NASA gets its certification. For the moment, they will not imply any costs. Phil McAlister, the director of NASA’s Commercial Spaceflight Development Division, has declared that to award these planned missions means to provide stability and security for the future crew rotation schedule at ISS.
What is more, they are also bound to reduce financial insecurity and schedule for their providers. McAlister also pointed out that the most significant goal of the Commercial Crew Program is the ability to fuel missions to meet the needs of the space station program. Both Boeing and SpaceX are currently preparing to test for the first time their crewed flights next year.
The current schedule shows that Dragon, the crewed spaceship of SpaceX will be tested in November. In May 2018, the rocket will be launched in a crewed test flight. In June 2018, Boeing plans to test CST-100 Starliner flying only the unscrewed rover. In August they will start a crewed flight. Each spacecraft is bound to carry four members and only one hundred kilograms of cargo delivering it to the ISS.
These new rovers may also serve as lifeboats, being used whenever an emergency occurs at the International Space Station to bring astronauts back home. The Space Shuttle program of NASA ended back in 2011. Thus, the space agency was determined to depend on booking or buying seats aboard other spaceships like the Russian Soyuz craft. This launched from Kazakstan and flew American astronauts directly to the ISS.
At the moment, NASA has contracts with the space agency of Russia named Roscosmos to deliver astronauts on six different occasions aboard Soyuz this year.
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