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Last updated: February 13, 2017

  Posted: 2 October 2014
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A picture taken of the ISS as the backdrop while a space shuttle crew returns to Earth.

Above: International Space Station in 2009. Photo taken by astronauts on the Space Shuttle leaving the ISS.

Photo: NASA

NASA’s Crew Capsule Contract Awarded to Boeing & Space X
In August of 2014, NASA selected Boeing & SpaceX to be the recipients of over $6 billion in contracts to build their crew capsules to transport NASA astronauts to and from the ISS from locations in the United States such as Kennedy Space Center, or Vandenburg Air Force Base in California. Included in those contracts are a number of planned space flights with NASA astronauts. Boeing received over $ 4 billion in funding from NASA through this contract and Space X received over $2 billion in funding.

In 2017 Boeing and Space X are expected to have the new crew capsules ready and this achievement will end the United States’ reliance on Russia’s Soyuz capsules, costing NASA $88 million per seat. Today, the astronauts traveling to the ISS depart the Earth in Soyuz capsules from Russia’s Cosmodrome in the independent Asian nation of Kazakhstan.

CST-100 by Boeing & the Dragon V2 by SpaceX

The crew capsule space craft that Boeing is designing is called the CST-100 and the model which Space X is designing is called the Dragon V-2. Both spacecraft will carry 7 crew members. Russian Soyuz capsules that are currently ridden by the astronauts to the ISS only carry 3 astronauts. It is common for all 3 astronauts to be from different countries such as countries who are members in the European space agency, Russia, the United States or Japan. SpaceX already has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA for 12 cargo trips to the orbiting lab by Dragon using Space X's Falcon 9 rocket to launch the Dragon which has already been making cargo and scientific equipment deliveries to the ISS since 2012.

CNN report re: SpaceX & Boeing 2014 - crew capsules

Sierra Nevada Corp. & the Dream Chaser
There is a 51-year old aerospace company called Sierra Nevada Corp. which also submitted an application for the same contracts later won by Boeing & Space X. Sierra Nevada has designed a space-plane with wings known as the Dream Chaser. The Dream Chaser is designed to glide to a runway landing like the space shuttle did before it was retired in 2011. Unfortunately for Sierra Nevada Corp. NASA did not select their spacecraft. Sierra Nevada Corp. is disputing their choice because according to Sierra Nevada, Corp., the Dream Chaser spacecraft is $900 million more affordable than Boeing's craft and it can land on any military runway which gives it more landing options than Boeing’s craft.

Government Funding For NASA
NASA hopes to get about $800 million for the commercial crew program for the 2015 fiscal year.

by Andrea Boggs

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