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NASA plans to spend $1.6 bn on space taxis

Last updated on: September 20, 2011 13:35 IST

NASA plans to spend $1.6 bn on space taxis

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National Aeronautics and Space Administration has plans to spend a whopping $1.6 billion over the next two years to bolster industry efforts to develop space taxis , a media report said.

The US space agency will be looking for complete systems -- launchers, spaceships, mission operations and ground support -- to ferry astronauts to the InternationalSpace Station by the middle of the decade, The Daily Telegraph online reported.

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The money will supplement investments that private firms are making to develop commercial space transportation services, the report said.

US President Barack Obama has requested $ 850 million for NASA's so-called Commercial Crew initiative for the year beginning October 1.

The Senate Appropriations Committee last week offered $500 million.

With the US space shuttles retired, the US is dependent on Russia to fly its astronauts to the space station, a $100 billion project of 16 nations that orbits about 225 miles above Earth.

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Russia charges more than $50 million a person, including training and support services.

A Russian cargo ship failed last month to reach orbit after a launch accident, exposing the vulnerability of having only one way for crew to fly to the space station. The

Progress rocket, which was carrying a cargo capsule of food and fuel, and the Soyuz booster that carries crew use nearly identical upper-stage motors.

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China, the only other country that has flown people in orbit, is not a member of the space station programme.

"Right now, we have a single-string failure for a $100 billion national lab. Every year we do not have a commercial crew capability, the station is at risk," NASA commercial spaceflight development director, Phil McAlister, was quoted as saying.

 



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