The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Washington (AFP) — The company — or companies — that will build America’s next space taxi to carry astronauts to low Earth orbit and back is to be revealed Tuesday.

NASA, which has been unable to send astronauts to space since the retirement of the shuttle in 2011, said the announcement would be made at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center at 4:00 pm (2000 GMT).

“We’re returning human spaceflight launches to America. Learn who will take crews to the ISS (International Space Station),” NASA tweeted.

A spokesman for the U.S. space agency declined to provide further details until the disclosure, which is timed to coincide with the closing of the U.S. markets.

The agency has spent more than $1.4 billion since 2010 to help private companies like SpaceX, Boeing, and Sierra Nevada develop their own crew transport vehicles that could carry astronauts to the ISS by 2017.

In the meantime, the world’s space powers have had to rely on Russia’s Soyuz for transporting rocket scientists to the orbiting outpost, at a cost of $70 million per seat.

The Wall Street Journal cited unnamed industry sources as saying Boeing was considered a favorite in the NASA bids.

Of the three front-runners, Boeing has received the largest amount of NASA funds — $620.8 million to help build its commercial crew vehicle, according to NASA’s website.

Boeing’s acorn-shaped space capsule is called the Crew Space Transportation-100, or CST-100 for short, and is designed to carry up to seven passengers or a mix of crew and cargo to the space station, which circles the planet in low-Earth orbit.

The sleek, metallic capsule is designed without welding creases, may be re-used up to 10 times, and is equipped with wireless Internet access and tablet technology so the crew can interface with mission control.

California-based SpaceX has been awarded $554.5 million to develop its crew vehicle, which it has based on the Dragon cargo carrier it designed and which in 2010 became the first private spaceship to complete resupply missions to the ISS.

SpaceX is headed by Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, who made his fortune as co-founder of PayPal and also serves as CEO of Tesla Motors.

Musk unveiled the Dragon Version Two, or V2, at a glitzy nighttime news conference in May.

Shaped like a gum-drop and painted gleaming white with blue accents, the Dragon V2 is designed to be able to “land propulsively almost anywhere on Earth,” and could carry up to seven crew members, SpaceX said on its website.

The third company in the running, Sierra Nevada, received $363.1 million in NASA seed money for its Dream Chaser vehicle, which looks like a miniature space shuttle, with room for up to seven astronauts, and is designed to land on runways much like an airplane.

Industry experts expect NASA may choose more than one company — though the size of the cash awards may differ — so as to encourage competition in the fledgling field of commercial crew space transport.

Photo: Luke Bryant via Flickr

Interested in more national news? Sign up for our daily email newsletter!

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Donald Trump
Youtube Screenshot

Allies of former President Donald Trump have advised members of the Republican Party to cool down their inflammatory rhetoric toward the United States Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation following the execution of a search warrant at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida on Monday.

Trump supporters, right-wing pundits, and lawmakers have been whipped into a frenzy over what Trump called a "raid" by federal agents in pursuit of classified documents removed from the White House during Trump's departure from office.

Keep reading... Show less

Former President Donald Trump

Youtube Screenshot

On August 20, 2022, Donald Trump will have been gone from the White House for 19 months. But Trump, unlike other former presidents, hasn’t disappeared from the headlines by any means — and on Monday, August 8, the most prominent topic on cable news was the FBI executing a search warrant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in South Florida. Countless Republicans, from Fox News hosts to Trump himself, have been furiously railing against the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). And in an article published by Politico on August 11, reporters Kyle Cheney and Meridith McGraw describe the atmosphere of “paranoia” and suspicion that has become even worse in Trumpworld since the search.

“A wave of concern and even paranoia is gripping parts of Trumpworld as federal investigators tighten their grip on the former president and his inner circle,” Cheney and McGraw explain. “In the wake of news that the FBI agents executed a court-authorized search warrant at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida, Trump’s allies and aides have begun buzzing about a host of potential explanations and worries. Among those being bandied about is that the search was a pretext to fish for other incriminating evidence, that the FBI doctored evidence to support its search warrant — and then planted some incriminating materials and recording devices at Mar-a-Lago for good measure — and even that the timing of the search was meant to be a historical echo of the day President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974.”

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}