Holy Outsourcing Batman!

When the Space Shuttle retires as scheduled in June, NASA will be dependent on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS). Based on a recent $753 million contract NASA awarded to the Russian Federal Space Agency, these outsourced services cost U.S. taxpayers roughly $63 million per seat.

It’s doubtless a hefty price tag, but NASA lacks U.S.-based alternatives—so far, anyway. American businesses are, nonetheless, vying for agency funds with which to advance U.S.-built spacecraft and related technologies. Such a contract was just announced; yet, the contract amount is but 10 percent of that awarded to Russia’s space agency.

Soyuz TMA-7 Spacecraft

Soyuz TMA-7 Spacecraft

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) won a $75 million, Congressionally mandated award from NASA as part of the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) initiative started in 2009. NASA’s CCDev awards are intended to stimulate efforts within the private sector, encouraging the development, maturation, and demonstration of human spaceflight technologies and capabilities.

Under this specific contract award, SpaceX will develop a launch escape system for its Dragon, enabling the company’s spacecraft to carry astronauts. Considered by many to be the Space Shuttle’s successor, Dragon is designed to carry seven astronauts to the space station, the cost of which would be $20 million a seat, reveals a spokesperson.

“This award will accelerate our efforts to develop the next-generation rockets and spacecraft for human transportation,” explains Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and chief designer. “With NASA’s support, SpaceX will be ready to fly its first manned mission in 2014.”

This geek, dedicated to fostering innovation in the U.S., calls out to his brethren: engineers, computer scientists, chemists, mathematicians, physicists, and systems integrators and systems architects; U.S.-based companies such as SpaceX in Texas, Virgin Galactic in New Mexico, and Boeing in the Northwest; technology companies, such as Mentor Graphics and others, offering tools for designing and developing radiation-hardened tools and spacecraft avionics. Let’s bring that nearly $1 billion dollars back to the U.S. Let’s fly Americans to space aboard private spacecraft conceived, designed, and developed right here in the U.S.

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Posted April 26th, 2011, by

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About J. VanDomelen Mil/Aero Blog

J. VanDomelen holds a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems and myriad certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTia in varying facets of computer software, hardware, and network design and implementation. He has worked in the electronics industry for more than 12 years in varied fields, including advanced systems design of highly technical military and aerospace computer systems, semiconductor manufacturing, open source software development, hardware design, and rapid prototyping. J. VanDomelen Mil/Aero Blog

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Commented on June 27, 2011 at 5:34 pm
By Made in the U.S.A. « J. VanDomelen Mil/Aero Blog

[...] Exploration Technologies, better known as SpaceX is a leading American space transport company, advancing the boundaries of space technology [...]

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