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NASA awards more operational manned missions to SpaceX and Boeing

NASA today awarded four more operational manned missions to SpaceX and Boeing, bringing their total planned flights now to six each, not counting their first demonstration mission.

The additional flights will allow the commercial partners to plan for all aspects of these missions while fulfilling space station transportation needs. The awards do not include payments at this time. “Awarding these missions now will provide greater stability for the future space station crew rotation schedule, as well as reduce schedule and financial uncertainty for our providers,” said Phil McAlister, director, NASA’s Commercial Spaceflight Development Division.

NASA essentially has no choice. These spacecraft will be the only way to get astronauts to ISS after 2018, when our contract with the Russians expires.

Moreover, by awarding these contracts now, before the end of the Obama administration, NASA essentially locks them down before the new Trump administration can take power and kill them.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

6 comments

  • mpthompson

    You hint the Trump administration might want kill these missions. Doesn’t make much sense. Can you elaborate?

  • mpthompson: Sorry if I gave the impression that the Trump administration might want to kill these commercial missions. I personally doubt it. However, I do know how politics is done in Washington, and I am certain that the announcement of these operational contracts now was a decision by NASA management to guarantee these deals go through. Right now, they really do not know what a Trump administration might do. This helps place some certainty on their future policy and actions.

  • mpthompson

    I see. Thanks for the clarification.

    Trump is certainly a wild card. I sincerely hope that he and his administration may end up being the best friend commercial space may have in Washington. I guess we’ll find out in the coming months.

  • LocalFluff

    Fighting for commercial space against congress might’ve been the best thing Obama did. Although he did it only because it was the opposite standpoint of the neocons, it is maybe the only significant good part of his legacy that will survive his administration. He doesn’t seem to mention it in his braggings, though, because commercial space is not in line with leftist sentimentality of central government and anti-tech-that-destroys-our-environment-whatever at whom he now is looking for a job (after his 8 years of vacation).

  • Richard M

    “NASA essentially has no choice. These spacecraft will be the only way to get astronauts to ISS after 2018, when our contract with the Russians expires.”

    Unquestionably true. It’s a little late to bail out now.

    Of course, in a sense there *is* a choice, because there are two contractors, which gives some hedge against one of them running into serious problems. Which demonstrates the wisdom of NASA holding firm against congressional pressures to downselect to just one CCtCAP contractor.

  • Diane Wilson

    Since this is the month for smooth transitions of power, let’s hope for a smooth transition from Russia to SpaceX and Boeing for manned flights to ISS.

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