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One Step Closer to Commercial Human Spaceflight: NASA Awards First Mission

posted: 05/29/15
by: Danny Clemens
International Space Station after STS-132 undocking
NASA

Commercial human spaceflight is on track to lift off in the near future, as NASA has awarded Boeing the first commercial human spaceflight mission. Under the terms of the contract, the American aerospace contractor is guaranteed to service between two and six flights.

Under development since 2014, Boeing's Crew Space Transportation spacecraft (CST-100) is capable of carrying seven passengers to space stations and other low-Earth orbit destinations. NASA hopes to resume U.S.-based spaceflights with the spacecraft by 2017.

"This occasion will go in the books of Boeing's nearly 100 years of aerospace and more than 50 years of space flight history," said John Elbon, general manager of Boeing's Space Exploration division. "We look forward to ushering in a new era in human space exploration."

The contract was awarded as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Transportation mission, which aims to build public-private partnerships to transport astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station.

A public-private arrangement saves NASA money: since private companies (like Boeing) own and operate the spacecraft, the agency only has to pay for individual flights -- instead of operating the entire airline, NASA now only has to buy a ticket. Furthermore, a variety of partnerships creates competition in the marketplace, encouraging innovation and keeping prices down.

Click here to read Boeing's full announcement

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