NASA's space shuttle program might be ending its 30-year run soon; but that doesn't mean an American-made spacecraft will never find its way into orbit again.
NASA is ensuring the next spacecraft will be American made by awarding contracts to four developers as part of the second round Commercial Crew Development (CCDev2) effort. The four winners were Blue Origin in Kent, Wash for $22 million, Sierra Nevada Corporation in Louisville, Colo. for $80 million, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) in Hawthorne, Calif. for $75 million and The Boeing Company in Houston for $92.3 million.
We're committed to safely transporting U.S. astronauts on American-made spacecraft and ending the outsourcing of this work to foreign governments, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement. These agreements are significant milestones in NASA's plans to take advantage of American ingenuity to get to low-Earth orbit, so we can concentrate our resources on deep space exploration.
After the space shuttle era ends this year, American astronauts will essentially be hitching rides on foreign rockets.The CCDeV initiative was put in place to get the private sector to create American spacecraft, with each project lasting approximately two years.
Boeing said with their contract, the company will continue work on the system design of its Crew Space Transportation-100 spacecraft. CST-100 will be comprised of a crew module and a service module and will be designed to carry seven people, or a combination of people and cargo.
We are combining lessons learned and best practices from commercial airplanes, satellites and launch systems with those from human spaceflight programs such as the space shuttle and the International Space Station to design, deliver and fly the CST-100 in 2015, John Elbon, vice president and program manager of the Boeing Commercial Crew Programs, said in a statement.