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NASA plans to spend USD 1.6 bn on ‘space taxis’

Artistic illustration of space capsules being developed by private US firms.

WASHINGTON (PTI): US space agency NASA has plans to spend a whopping USD 1.6 billion over the next two years in a bid to bolster industry efforts to develop “space taxis,” according to a media report.

The space agency will be looking for complete systems – launchers, spaceships, mission operations and ground support – to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station by the middle of the decade, The Daily Telegraph online reported.

The money will supplement investments that private firms are making to develop commercial space transportation services, the report said.

US President Barack Obama has requested USD 850 million for NASA’s so-called Commercial Crew initiative for the year beginning October 1. The Senate Appropriations Committee last week offered USD 500 million.

With the US space shuttles retired, the US is dependent on Russia to fly its astronauts to the space station – a USD 100 billion project of 16 nations that orbits about 225 miles above Earth.

Russia charges more than USD 50 million a person, including training and support services.

A Russian cargo ship failed last month to reach orbit after a launch accident, exposing the vulnerability of having only one way for crew to fly to the space station.

China, the only other country that has flown people in orbit, is not a member of the space station programme.

“Right now, we have a single-string failure for a USD 100 billion national lab. Every year we do not have a commercial crew capability, the station is at risk,” NASA commercial spaceflight development director, Phil McAlister, was quoted as saying.


NASA  Spacecraft  ISS  

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