NASA decided to order another SpaceX flight to take astronauts from Earth to the International Space Station. This was the last order for SpaceX, as the following two missions will be supplied by Boeing.
The Commercial Crew Program is set to restore space flying capabilities for Americans. These were interrupted when the NASA space shuttle was scrapped in 2011. Since then, Americans have been using the Soyuz Russian spaceship to get to the ISS. SpaceX as well as Boeing are under contract to fly crew with the Crew Dragon and the CST-100 Starliner.
Kathy Leuders, manager of the Commercial Crew Program from NASA, stated that the rotation flights from Space X, and Boeing will help US astronauts to access the space station. The two vehicles will also be used as lifeboats for the ISS, for a period of time of several months.
Even though Boeing was the first company to receive the order, the exact date of the mission has not been chosen. Both Boeing and SpaceX are in the testing stages.
The contracts have to be one two or three years before the missions taking place so that each company has enough time to produce and put together the rocket and spacecraft.
These companies also have to finish the process of certification before they get final approval. Recently, Boeing postponed their first human flight to February 2018. Space X is now planning their first flight to take place by 2017.
Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX, pointed out that the company is making huge strides with Crew Dragon, and quite a few of the tests have been successfully completed. The company is proud to be taken into consideration for another human mission and is looking forward to putting American astronauts in space next year.
The first unmanned test of the Crew Dragon mission is going to happen in May 2017. After that, SpacX will test the SuperDraco engine thrusters.
NASA has four astronauts on the list to try the new aircraft. They are Robert Behnken, Sunita Williams, Douglas Hurley and Eric Boe.
The typical crew mission to the International Space Station is going to carry up to four crew members and 220 pounds of supplies. The capsule will serve as lifeboat after the mission ends.
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