By Joey Roulette
ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) – NASA announced on Friday that it was considering the option of buying two additional astronaut seats aboard a Russian rocket as a plan. urgency to avoid further delays in launch systems developed by SpaceX and Boeing Co. of Elon Musk
One possible purchase "offers flexibility and backup capability" as companies build rocket and capsule launch systems to bring US ground astronauts back to the International Space Station (ISS) for the first time since the program's closure. NASA space shuttle in 2011.
Since then, the US space agency has had to rely on the Russian program Roscosmos to transport astronauts to the orbital space station at a cost of about $ 80 million per seat, NASA said.
After 2019, there would be no more space available on the satellite for US crews and a NASA Advisory Committee on Friday recommended that the US Space Program develop an emergency plan to ensure the "safe haven". access to the station in case technical problems would further delay Boeing and SpaceX.
A spokesman for NASA on Friday called a request for NASA solicitation filed Wednesday, emergency plan. NASA has announced that it could buy a seat for an astronaut in the fall and another in the spring of 2020.
"The absence of US crew members at any time would reduce ISS operations to an inoperable state," NASA wrote in its bid solicitation on Wednesday.
NASA has awarded $ 6.8 billion to SpaceX, founded by Tesla General Manager Elon Musk, and aerospace giant Boeing to develop separate launch systems that allow astronauts to move around the world. # 39; space.
NASA announced another slide last week, citing concerns for both contractors, such as the need to perform hardware tests and other factors. The US Space Agency said SpaceX was now targeting March 2 instead of February 23 for its unmanned test flight, with its astronaut flight in July.
NASA said the unmanned Boeing CST-100 Starliner would not fly until April, with Boeing's crewed mission scheduled for August.
"As a general rule, problems will be discovered during these test flights," NASA wrote.
(Report by Joey Roulette in Orlando, Florida, edited by Eric M. Johnson and G Crosse)