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.
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.
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