The commercial sector of the space industry has been spiced up, as NASA agreed upon a deal with Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Boeing as well. The two companies will be trusted with the delivery of astronauts to the International Space Station.
NASA has chosen to count on the services of two companies rather than one, as some might have preferred, but this gives them a certain mobility, not to mention a backup plan in case something happens with one company. These deals will refresh NASA’s options for sending people into space, and no longer solely count on the services of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, which takes $71 million for a single seat on the spacecraft out of the US’s pocket. More than $400 million were spent on these service in a single year. but that may not be the case any longer, as the two newly recruited companies should help NASA launch astronauts into space from U.S. territory and rockets. This is predicted to take place sometime in 2017 or even 2018.
Apparently, both companies will be granted a single mission for proving themselves, and their ability to provide transportation to the space station. After the test mission, operational contracts will follow accordingly.
Since there are two companies, payment will be split two-ways. However, for the time being, we don’t really know how they’re going to split it. Rumours suggest that Boeing will take “the bulk” of the payment, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. This may also have to do with the fact that Boeing charges more than the other company involved, SpaceX.
The addition of SpaceX and Boeing pretty much pushed another player, Sierra Nevada Corp. to the side. The developer of the Dream Chaser vehicle has been pretty much left out, although it has developer a shuttle-type space plane with wings that would be useful for some missions, as well as bringing back all kinds of things from missions.
Aside from this partnership that NASA landed, there are other major news in the space word. Confirmed by official sources and reported by the Journal, it seems like Jeffrey Bezos is also making moves in the space industry. If you don’t know who Bezos is, you will now. He is the owner of The Washington Post, and also the founder of Amazon.com, which you surely heard of. He is apparently advancing in the space industry through his company, Blue Origin, which will be apparently providing rocket engines for the Atlas 5. The Atlas 5 is a rocket that belongs to the United Launch Alliance, which is a result of Lockheed partnering up wit Boeing. The move brings Blue Origin, which benefits from at least $500 million investments from Jeffrey Bezos, out of the low profile it’s been keeping for a long time now.
The engine supplied by Blue Origin would replace the currently used RD-180 engine. This engine is made by the Russians, and due to relations between the two countries going sore, it risks being supplied no more. As the crew capsule used by Boeing functions on an Atlas 5 rocket, Blue Origin swooping in to save the day with represent a great advantage for Boeing.
Nevertheless, it is impressive to see how much Elon Musk and his company SpaceX have grown, as almost ten years ago they were nothing but a visionary with a fortune made off the internet and a prospering company that hadn’t struck a NASA deal yet. Even back then, Musk made it known that he is all about mankind discovering the stars and removing our earthly limitations.