NASA hopes to begin launching astronauts to the space station aboard Boeing and SpaceX capsules in the 2017 timeframe, but managers expect to still send crews up aboard Russian spacecraft as a hedge against problems that could force some astronauts to make an emergency landing.
A Delta 2 rocket has lifted off from California’s Central Coast on Saturday with a NASA environmental satellite designed to improve flood and drought forecasts, map moisture in Earth’s soils, and track the planet’s water cycle.
Work on Boeing’s CST-100 commercial crew capsule will ramp up at the program’s new home base in Florida this year, with construction of a crew access tower at the Atlas 5 rocket’s launch pad underway and assembly of a spacecraft test article due to begin in a converted space shuttle hangar.
NASA, United Launch Alliance and Air Force officials hold the pre-launch news conference for the Delta 2 rocket with the agency’s SMAP environmental satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Jan. 27.
The human-rated Crew Dragon spacecraft being developed by SpaceX will return to Earth under parachutes for splashdowns in ocean, and not execute helicopter-like propulsive touchdowns on land, a SpaceX official confirmed Monday.
NASA expects to spend some $5 billion underwriting development of commercial spacecraft built by Boeing and SpaceX to carry astronauts to and from the space station, ending reliance on the Russians for crew flights and lowering the average cost per seat to around $58 million.
Scientists have released new findings from the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission, adding fresh pages to a catalog of comet data that officials promise will swell with more discoveries over the rest of the year.