Currently using less-than-reliable Russian space agency vehicles to take astronauts to and from the International Space Station, NASA wants to go a different direction. This week, the space agency asked commercial space companies to submit bids for a new space taxi as part of the latest round of the Commercial Crew Program.
“President Obama is working hard to create an American economy built to last,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in TheStateColumn. “NASA’s support of commercial innovation to reach low Earth orbit is helping to support these efforts by spurring new technological development and creating jobs and economic benefits for years to come.”
NASA said they expect to select two companies that can provide “safe, reliable, and cost effective human access to space,” noting that they expect to make multiple awards this summer, with values up to $500 million, an investment they could get back rather quickly.
The Russian space agency charges $63 million per seat for a ride to the international Space Station and has had a lot of problems in recent months. Among them, a probe intended for Mars failed to reach beyond low-Earth orbit.
Looking for alternatives to the retired space shuttle, winning firms would have until May 2014 to complete their integrated designs and have them ready to test fly by the middle of the decade.