Today NASA has announced contracts with two commercial companies to take astronauts into space in the future. NASA has made contract agreements to use the Boeing CST-100 and the SpaceX Dragon to take astronauts to the ISS by 2017. The total potential contract cost is 4.2 billion dollars for Boeing and 2.6 billion dollars for SpaceX. During a follow up teleconference Commercial Crew Program Manager Kathy Lueders explained that the difference of the contract amounts is based on the proposal from each company. Each transportation systems will have to pass the same safety tests that were in effect during the space shuttle missions.
Many companies in the aerospace industry have applied for this opportunity and as of now NASA has selected these two companies. These contracts are being made to eliminate NASA’s dependency on Russia for human space flight. With these new contract we will be able to have American based companies taking American astronauts to the ISS and be able to have NASA focus on the missions further than the ISS.
Although NASA has selected these companies to transport humans to space in the future the NASA administrator Charles Bolden has ensured that NASA is still working on their own transport system to take humans out of earth orbit going to an Asteroid and to Mars. This rocket system is the Space Launch System (SLS) and vehicle to hold and transport the astronauts is the Orion Capsule which is currently being tested. The Orion capsule will have its first test launch in December 2014.