Private Astronaut Taxi Development Entering Final Phase
Peter Donnell / 3 years ago
NASA has released the latest draft for the fourth and final development phase of the Commercial Crew Program, a program that plans to provide crewed space launches to the ISS from the U.S. by late 2017.
While this isn’t a full replacement of the old shuttle system it is a way for NASA to subsidize commercial development of the systems used to ferry astronauts to and from the space station, or of course to any future space based systems. The system here would allow for two flights per year once NASA places its first task order for a crewed flight. Currently NASA relies on funded Space Act Agreements to subsidize development of commercial space craft but if the new system goes as planned there will be a fixed-price deal administered under the Federal Acquisition Regulations.
Anyone (so to speak) can design a commercial space craft, but the one that nets the NASA contract is more than likely already going to have the backing of NASA in terms of funding and that means that Boeing Space Exploration Systems, Sierra Nevada Corp.’s Space Systems of Louisville and SpaceX are currently out in front.
There are several different approaches being worked on, from capsule designs at Boeing and SpaceX to a lifting-body design at Sierra Nevada, all of which seat seven people. Boeing and Sierra plan to launch using the United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 rocket, where as the Falcon 9 is planned for the SpaceX design.
The success of this program would mean the first crewed orbital space flight launched from the U.S. since the end of the shuttle program in 2011, which lets face it was a sad day as the iconic image of the shuttle is a big part of our space faring history.
NASA has repeatedly said it needs more than $800 million a year, a lot more than has ever been awarded to the program, if they have any hope of meeting the 2017 target for the program.
Full details on the program can be found here.
Thank you Mashable for providing us with this information.
Image courtesy of Mashable.