NASA to deploy space taxis Boeing and SpaceX for ISS transport – update

NASA has chosen Boeing and SpaceX to make space taxis for transportation to and from the International Space Station. In 2017, SpaceX’s Dragon V2 and Boeing’s CST-100 capsule should end reliance on Russia for transportation.

NASA’s agreement with Boeing and SpaceX includes conducting at least one test flight with at least one NASA astronaut on board to ensure that both companies’ spacecraft can launch, maneuver and dock at the ISS. After testing and approval from NASA, both Boeing and SpaceX are required to conduct two to six manned missions to the station. Boeing and SpaceX reserve the right to use their space technology for other organizations. A third party, Sierra Nevada Corporation, saw the contract pass by.

Boeing signs for 4.2 billion dollars, converted 3.2 billion euros, of the contract; Space Exploration Technologies has to make do with 2.6 billion dollars, or 2 billion euros. NASA emphasizes that it has chosen American companies to stop being completely dependent on Russia for the transport of astronauts by 2017. That dependency arose after the retirement of the Space Shuttles in 2011, but leads to complications in political tensions such as those of recent times.

“By using private companies in the launches to low Earth orbit, the space agency can focus on getting the most out of research and experience on the ISS,” NASA said. The organization also says it focuses on deep space missions, such as flights to Mars.

Update, 16.00: The American Space Adventures deploys the ‘proven’ Russian Soyuz rockets for a flight around the moon, the company writes on its site. The company has been using the Soyuz for tourist rocket flights for more than a decade.