Beginning in 2017, U.S. astronauts will no longer be carried to space by Russian spacecraft. Instead, private spaceflight companies SpaceX and Boeing will transport them in return for contracts worth $6.8 billion.
“Today’s announcement sets the stage for what will be the most ambitious, exciting chapter in the history of NASA,” NASA administrator Charles Bolden said at a press conference. “This is the fulfillment of the commitment President Obama made to return human spaceflight launches to U.S. soil.”
Boeing will receive $4.2 billion in initial contracts, while SpaceX will receive $2.6 billion. The companies will be expected to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station and then return them to Earth. NASA currently pays Russia $70.7 million per astronaut seat — a deal threatened by a soured relationship between the two countries.
SpaceX will carry astronauts on its Dragon space capsule, which it already uses to deliver cargo to the ISS. Boeing will use the
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