While NASA shut down the Space Shuttle program in 2011, they have still been sending astronauts to the International Space Station and back. However, they’ve been sending them to Russia in order to hop on a Soyuz rocket, but that doesn’t seem to be the exact solution that NASA wants. The organizations plans to launch manned space flights in the US again, but the timing as been delayed into 2017.
NASA has a developed a plan to replace the space shuttle by paying private space companies like SpaceX to send astronauts to the ISS. However, due to government budget cuts, the original 2015 date when we would see this happen has been delayed two years into 2017. As a result, NASA has had to pay the Roscosmos Space Agency $424 million to extend their contract into 2017.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said that “it is unacceptable that we don’t currently have an American capability to launch our own astronauts.” Bolden and company is calling upon Congress to approve President Obama’s budget request of $821 million for NASA, or else there will be further delays past 2017 to launch astronauts from the US.
At least we have an American company sending and bringing back cargo off the ISS. SpaceX, which was founded by Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, has completed several resupply missions to the ISS so far, and NASA hopes soon that SpaceX rockets will be carrying astronauts up into space within the next few years.