NASA’s Commercial Crew Program has been all about bringing astronaut launches back to US soil. The SpaceX portion of the program is working well, but a NASA astronaut might still launch from soil in Kazakhstan.
NASA said Tuesday that it’s considering reserving a ride to the International Space Station on a spring launch of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
Crew-2 mission launch in April. NASA said these efforts “demonstrate continued progress.”back and forth to the ISS, and Boeing, the other commercial crew partner, expects to conduct a in March. SpaceX is planning for a
“Securing an additional Soyuz seat assures the back-up capability of at least one U.S. crew member aboard the International Space Station in the event of a problem with either spacecraft,” the agency said in a statement. NASA is considering providing in-kind services to Russia rather than outright purchasing a Soyuz seat.
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NASA is aiming to continuously have a US crew member on board the ISS. The current crew return schedule could create a gap in that if SpaceX’s Crew-2 mission is delayed or doesn’t reach the station in April. A Soyuz seat would be a safeguard.
“At NASA, we have a phrase we use often — dissimilar redundancy. That’s NASA speak for saying we always have a back-up plan that ensures we have a path forward even if we encounter an issue with our initial approach,” said Robyn Gatens, NASA’s acting director for the ISS.