Future manned spaceflights to the International Space Station (ISS) could save millions of dollars using spacecraft currently being developed by private US companies Boeing and SpaceX, NASA said.
The average cost to fly US astronauts on Boeing’s CST-100 and SpaceX’s Dragon from the US soil in 2017 will be USD 58 million per seat, based on a five-year mission plan, according to NASA’s commercial crew programme manager Kathy Lueders.
Currently, Russian space agency Roscosmos is charging NASA over USD 70 million per seat to get US astronauts into space, Xinhua reported.
Boeing and SpaceX were selected in September 2014 to build spacecraft and rockets that will lift them into orbit by 2017.
Since the end of the space shuttle programme in 2011, NASA has had to rely on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft to transport astronauts to the ISS.
Boeing said it will conduct a pad abort test in February 2017, followed by an uncrewed flight test in April 2017, then a flight with a Boeing test pilot and a NASA astronaut in July 2017.
Boeing said its first services mission to the ISS will begin in December 2017, the company said.
SpaceX anticipates a pad abort test later this year, then an uncrewed flight test in late 2016 and a flight test with crew in early 2017.