March 31, 2014
Developing private spaceships to launch astronauts from U.S. soil in the near future should be a top priority for the nation’s space program, NASA administrator Charles Bolden said Thursday.
NASA officials hope the space agency will start flying astronauts to the International Space Station using privately built spaceships by 2017. To make that goal a reality, Congress needs to fund the program at the levels suggested by the White House’s 2015 budget proposal, Bolden told members of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Space.
Since the end of the U.S. space-shuttle program, NASA has relied on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft to transport astronauts to the space station. The commercial crew program is designed to end the space agency’s reliance on foreign vehicles. NASA also needs to make commercial crew flights a reality before the space agency can truly consider flying people to deep-space destinations like Mars, Bolden said. [Top 10 Private Spaceships]