56 million dollars taxi fee
These spacecrafts are designed to launch on United Launch Alliance Atlas, Delta rockets, or even SpaceX Falcon 9s, but are also destined to take passengers to a commercial space station which will be developed by Bigelow Aerospace in Nevada. In 2013 and 2014 there are supposed to be launched four test flights including three from the Space Coast of Florida. This means creating a number of jobs and Florida is competing with Alabama, Texas and Nevada to attract the manufacturing factories in their area. This decision is expected to come out in about three months. John Elbon, Boeing‘s vice president for commercial space programs, says that they will have to decide not only to produce the space crafts, but also where to do the mission operations, the training, the engineering and the program management. New jobs on the Space Coast are most welcomed because they will replace the ones lost after NASA announced the plans to retire its shuttle fleet after performing two or three more flights, this means people losing about 8,000 jobs at the Kennedy Space Center part of a 20,000 jobs lost resulting from the shuttle program shutdown.
NASA promised in February that they will provide Boeing and Bigelow Aerospace 18 million dollars for developing an Apollo style capsule that will be able to ferry up to seven people, but the keeping of the promise depends on the NASA budget negotiations with the Obama administration, Senate and the House. The White House proposed an 812 million dollars budget for the commercial spaceflight projects for the fiscal year of 2011, including 500 million dollars for developing private taxis. The Boeing officials say that the company has already checked 22 points of the total of 36 that NASA laid out for them this year and are preparing to test the spacecraft‘s launch abort system. The engineers are demonstrating the fabrication of the heat shield, the flight software is being developed and there are conducted landing drop tests for the space crafts. This year’s job for Boeing also includes testing the ship’s pressure vessel, the guidance, and navigation and life support systems. While waiting for the congressional approval, NASA is planning to issue a request for proposals for the commercial crew transportation to the International Space Station. These space taxis services will probably be offered by two contractors, and Boeing is planning to team up with United Launch Alliance to compete for the contract.
John Elbon says that the NASA research and the flights to Bigelow’s planned Orbital Space Complex provide enough customers so that Boeing would want to associate with Bigelow on the developments of the CT-100 capsule. The cost per seat will be comparable to what NASA is paying to fly an astronaut to the International Space Station on Russian Soyuz spacecraft, which means 56 million dollars, if one is to divide the 335 million bill for flying six astronauts on Soyuz crew transports.11