Wednesday, September 17, 2014

#NASA dumps #Roscosmos, picks #Boeing and #SpaceX for $6.8 billion Space Taxi Contract

Nasa has selected Boeing and PayPal founder Elon Musk’s SpaceX Corporation to transport astronauts to the International Space Station(ISS) for a $6.8bn contract which is part of its Commercial Crew Development programme. Boeing and SpaceX were involved in stiff competition to win the contract, beating out a challenge from the Sierra Nevada Corporation.

So far, Nasa has relied on the Russian space agency to send its astronauts to the ISS at a cost of up to $71m per seat. That relationship has come under pressure in recent months amid growing political tensions between Washington and Moscow over Ukraine. Earlier this month, Frank Kendall, the US government’s undersecretary of defence, said “The situation has changed with events in Ukraine,” he said. “There is close to a consensus that we need to find a way to remove the dependency.”
By the end of 2017 Nasa's existing contract with Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, is set to expire. After that Boeing’s CST-100 and SpaceX’s Dragon would be used as respective launch vehicles.
The total potential contract value is $4.2 billion for Boeing and $2.6 billion for SpaceX. The spacecraft will launch from Kennedy Space Center – Cape Canaveral complex.
“Today we are one step closer to launching our astronauts from US soil on American spacecraft and ending the nation’s sole reliance on Russia by 2017,” said Charles Bolden, the Nasa administrator who announced the decision at Florida’s Kennedy Space Centre.