SpaceX wins NASA deal to fly astronauts to space station
Nov 23 2015
Commercial crew missions to the space station, on the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, will restore America's human spaceflight capabilities and increase the amount of time dedicated to scientific research aboard the orbiting laboratory. Since the NASA space shuttle program stopped in 2011, there has been no other way except the Russians to get any nation's astronauts to the ISS. Similar contract was given to Boeing in May.
Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida undergoes modifications by SpaceX to adapt it to the needs of the company's Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, which are slated to lift off from the historic pad in the near future.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration approved the flight to the worldwide Space Station set for late 2017, but preparations could begin soon.
The space agency's Commercial Crew Program has allowed private firms SpaceX and Boeing to ferry US astronauts to and from the ISS. Dragon spacecraft will be used to take astronauts and cargo to the ISS and will remain there for seven months and then would make a comeback on earth.
The SpaceX missions will mean a savings of $80 million for each NASA astronaut, as that is what the Russia's Soyuz rockets cost to get astronauts and supplies to the ISS. The agency said it was still not clear which company would fly astronauts first.
Mission orders are created two to three years before projected mission dates, giving time for manufacturing and assembly of the spacecrafts and launch systems. However, there is still every chance of delaying the missions as planned; NASA administrator Charles Bolden had been vocal about the program's underfunding.
Friday was indeed a big day for SpaceX as NASA has officially placed an order to it for a manned mission to the global Space Station in 2017. The spacecraft is expected to stay at the ISS for up to 210 days to function as an option for emergency situations.