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It’s official: NASA signs up to send crew on SpaceX’s Dragon space taxi
Science & Technology

It’s official: NASA signs up to send crew on SpaceX’s Dragon space taxi

NASA has ordered its first mission from SpaceX to carry astronauts to the Worldwide Space Station, six months after inserting a similar order with Boeing.

“It’s actually thrilling to see SpaceX and Boeing with {hardware} in move for his or her first crew rotation missions,” Kathy Lueders, supervisor of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, mentioned at the moment in a news release. “It is crucial to have not less than two wholesome and strong capabilities from U.S. corporations to ship crew and significant scientific experiments from American soil to the space station all through its lifespan.”

Each corporations are creating space taxis for NASA’s use as early as 2017, below the phrases of multibillion-dollar contracts that were awarded last year.

Regardless that the primary order went to Boeing, it has not but been decided whether or not Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule or SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule will go first. The contracts required NASA to put in its orders early, however the scheduling selections and required certifications might be made at a later time.

Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief working officer, mentioned NASA’s order was a “nice supply of pleasure for your entire SpaceX crew.”

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, like Boeing’s Starliner, can accommodate as many as seven individuals – however the usual mission to the space station and again will carry up 4 spacefliers and about 220 kilos of pressurized cargo. The spacecraft will stay on the station for up to 210 days and be out there as emergency lifeboats throughout that point.

As soon as the Dragon and the Starliner are up and working, NASA can cease paying the Russians $70 million per seat to transport space station astronauts forwards and backwards on Soyuz spacecraft. SpaceX and Boeing say they intend to beat Russia’s worth for space taxi rides.

In the meantime, NASA is working on a more capable, more expensive Orion crew capsule that’s meant for journeys past Earth orbit. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for Orion, which is predicted to carry its first crew by 2023.

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