Travel with Boeing in Space
Boeing announced on Wednesday that it was entering the space tourism business, and thanks to that, the Obama administration might have an opportunity of changing the task of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Obama administration wanted to change the space program into an agency that focuses more on creating a space industry than on building rockets.
It seems that the conquering of the space has stopped, as it is the moment of the regular people to experience something that only the astronauts have experienced before. It is estimated that the flights will begin in 2015, and that the site of the launch would be either at the Cape Canaveral in Florida or at the International Space Station. The Obama administration has stated that the private companies should have priority when it comes to sending the NASA astronauts into space. Boeing and Bigelow Aerospace of Las Vegas won $18 million contract this year, and the two companies had to develop a test a capsule which would have the possibility of carrying seven passengers.
Currently NASA wants only four space station crew members to go out in orbit at a time, and thanks to that decision, the three remaining seats could be offered to the tourists. It would be the first time when an untrained person would be able to go into space via a rocket ship that has been launched from the territory of the United States of America. However it would not be the first time when an untrained person would fly into orbit, as seven space tourists have went into space via the Russian Soyuz capsules. Eric C. Anderson, co-founder and chairman of Space Adventures which is the company specialized in space tourism stated that the company is ready to take its first customers.
The price of such an experience has not been discussed, but do not expect it to be cheap. In fact, it is most likely that because of the price very few people would afford going into orbit. The same happened in the case of the Soyuz flights. Space Adventures have been involved in those space flights as well and one of their customers was Guy Laliberté, who is the founder of Cirque du Soleil. In case you were wondering how much he paid for the trip, the answer is $40 million. He stayed in space, in the space station for 8 days.
It is unclear and unlikely that an American who will go into space from a rocket ship launched from U.S territory will be able to dock at a NASA space station. The North American Space Agency is in debate with the U.S Congress about this issue. It seems that the era of the space shuttle is reaching its end. Three more flights are being scheduled, and the Agency is uncertain of its future. The House Science and Technology Committee will write a bill regarding the future of NASA, but it is unlikely that regular flights such as the ones made up until this point will be scheduled before the Agency will send some regular people into the orbit. The House Science and Technology Committee want NASA to build its own spacecraft, which would be owned by the government, similar to Ares I, the spacecraft which NASA has been working on for about five years. Ares I would have the task of taking the astronauts to the space stations, but the Agency would like to expand its horizon.
They would like to send the astronauts to the moon, and then to send them to Mars, when the technology would allow it. President Obama has a completely different vision regarding the space agency though. Instead of focusing on missions similar to the ones which have been done before, he stated that he would like NASA to focus on the desires of the regular people as well. He said that the government would like to invest in private companies such as Boeing, as he believes that that is the future of space flight. Those companies would be able to develop space airlines, similar to the airlines existing today. He stated that NASA would then buy the tickets from those companies and send the astronauts to orbit via the International Space Station.
Obama believes that this would make things much easier on the already heavily affected economy. Instead of having the government spending hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars for sending people into space, private companies would be able to do it. Obama stated that he wants to offer NASA $150 million a year over the next three years, but there are many people who have contested this decision. The people believe that the decision is bad because the Space Agency would not be able to survive with only that amount of money. On the other hand, the Obama administration stated that it wants to offer the commercial crew program $6 billion over the next five years.
The Boeing officials have stated that the government would have to pay for most of the development costs; otherwise the deal would not be lucrative for them. John Elbon, program manager for Boeing’s commercial crew effort stated that the market is very uncertain, and because of that they would not want to take risks which could probably ruin them. He also stated that they would have not gotten involved in the project if they would have had to pay for the development of the program.
President Bush wanted to invest in a permanent moon base last year but the program did not receive the green lights because it did not have enough funds. It is uncertain if Obama’s plans would work because the $100 billion which is allocated to the human spaceflight program in the fiscal years of 2010 through 2020 would not be enough. $30 billion would still be required, and there are many people who believe that the task is very uncertain. Obama stated that he would be able to only offer $19 billion.11