NASA Will Launch Astronauts Into Space From US in 2019
The US space agency will launch astronauts into space next year from US soil following seven years of reliance on Russian transport, NASA Administrator James Bridenstine said in an interview published Monday.
“Without question, by the middle of next year, we’ll be flying American astronauts on American rockets from American soil,” he said in an interview published Monday. “We’re so close.”
US astronauts have been hitching rides on Russian rockets into space since Y 2011 at a cost of more than $82-M per seat, but NASA has made strides over the last few years to change course with its Commercial Crew Program.
The Trump Administration has also cited Moon missions as a Key element of the 2019 NASA budget, with Vice President Mike Pence last week (pictured above) saying the US wasn’t “content with just leaving behind footprints.”
“The time has come for the United States of America to … establish a permanent presence around and on the Moon,” he said during a speech at the Johnson Space Center.
The space agency first handed out multi-billion dollar contracts to SpaceX and Boeing in 2014 as part of its Commercial Crew program, but both companies this year announced delays on test flights.
SpaceX is still scheduled to send astronauts back into space from American soil in April 2019 from the Space Coast, while Boeing (NYSE:BA) is set to send crew up to the International Space Station in mid-2019 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
“SpaceX will be ready in November, if we can make all the other pieces work and we’re working toward that,” Mr. Bridenstine said.
The US will continue to maintain its partnership with Russia, Mr. Bridenstine.
“This is one thing that’s unique about NASA. Relationships around the world fall apart, but NASA has this ability because of support from Congress to maintain this relationship with Russia.”