NASA has decided to send some SpaceX staff to the International Space Station in the form of a mission in 2017.
NASA took a giant step. It has made the decision to send its first mission to the ISS from SpaceX. It is all a part of the orders NASA is taking under a contractual basis.
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It is indeed a pleasure to see both SpaceX and Boeing cooperating to send missions of astronauts aboard the ISS. Throughout the time span in which the ISS will remain operational, the crew will be doing their duties to send materials from US soil to the ISS.
"It’s really exciting to see SpaceX and Boeing with hardware in flow for their first crew rotation missions," said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
"It is important to have at least two healthy and robust capabilities from U.S. companies to deliver crew and critical scientific experiments from American soil to the space station throughout its lifespan."
The roster order in which each company will send their missions to the ISS is an issue that will get decided later on. The contract is on a real time basis and will have to deliver as per schedule.
The crew missions will probably be flying off into the depths of space on the CST-100 Starliner and the SpaceX Crew Dragon Spacecraft. The ISS meanwhile will become more streamlined as far as the performance of scientific experiments on board are concerned. As for SpaceX’s crew, they might get to employ the services of the Falcon 9 Rocket.
The design levels of SpaceX spacecraft have reached a stage of full-fledged maturity. And it is indeed quite a high water mark that has been reached in case of the Crew Dragon too. Two years from now, Crew Dragon will be taking NASA staff to the space station. And the spacecraft will be the most stable and secure in the entire history of humanity.
"The authority to proceed with Dragon's first operational crew mission is a significant milestone in the Commercial Crew Program and a great source of pride for the entire SpaceX team," said Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX.
“When Crew Dragon takes NASA astronauts to the space station in 2017, they will be riding in one of the safest, most reliable spacecraft ever flown. We're honored to be developing this capability for NASA and our country.”
These commercial crew programs will slash the rates of sending astronauts into space. In fact, they will be a quarter of the amounts in dollars that had to be paid to the Russians for getting this job done before the present setup.
However, it is all still a tentative proposal. If NASA does not get the contract than the Russians will have to be sought on a default basis. The orders as per contract are usually made two or three years prior to the actual missions. Per contract from two to six missions are a must. Usually per mission four crew are present and 220 pounds of cargo material goes along with them on board the spacecraft.
“Commercial crew launches are really important for helping us meet the demand for research on the space station because it allows us to increase the crew to seven,” said Julie Robinson, International Space Station chief scientist. “Over the long term, it also sets the foundation for scientific access to future commercial research platforms in low- Earth orbit.”
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Research on the space station is at an all-time high. And the spacecraft docks for 210 days on the ISS.