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Friday, November 16, 2007

NASA Reviews Future Options

American astronauts only means to the space station may be a Soyuz between 2010 and 2015 unless Congress and the President speed Orion.
NASA Administrator Mike Griffin was on Capitol Hill Thursday telling the U.S. Senate Space, Aeronautics and Related Sciences subcommittee [video begins 13min-in] that American astronaut launch options are slim without an extra $2-billion to speed development of the Orion spacecraft as the space shuttle program closes in April 2010.

With no domestic human-rated spacecraft available after the next thirteen space shuttle launches, the United States has few options to resupply and crew the $100-billion dollar International Space Station in the next ensuing five years post-2010 except for foreign launch vehicles.

American space access to re-crew the ISS will depend upon the Russians [video] under a contract valued at least $390 million from 2009 to 2011 to ferry astronauts to and from the space station. The Russians are providing no assurance that the Soyuz-taxi contract can be renewed after that. NASA is considering contracts with the Europeans and Japanese to re-supply the needs of its astronauts aboard the orbiting station. The Russians and Chinese will have the only government human-rated program in post-2010 for as long as five years.

SpaceX is seeking to achieve NASA milestones to provide a commercial space launch service that would enable both an astronaut and re-supply solution. SpaceX has yet to demonstrate flight readiness or an ability to achieve the launch rate the American space agency will need post-2010.


Barrie said...

I have to concede your comments are factually accurate, but this seems a little dismissive of SpaceX. For much of its history, the Shuttle itself has failed to demonstrate an ability to achieve the launch rate NASA 'needed', but they got by.

JackKennedy said...

It was NOT my intent to be dismissive of SpaceX. I am very much a keen supporter of space entrepreneur Elon Musk. It is my hope that he is enabled to save the American venture into space and not just for the 'down period' discussed. We need several successful commercial space launch firms to be effective in the global competitive market. But please know I do appreciate your comment.