NASA signs agreement with United Launch Alliance to mod Atlas V rocket to send astronauts to the ISS

NASA may have retired the shuttle fleet after the last launch, but the space agency still plans to keep shooting astronauts to the ISS for research and to continue manned space flight. NASA has announced that it has signed an agreement with United Launch Systems (ULS) to adapt the ULS Atlas V rocket to launch astronauts into space to the ISS.

ULA is a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin and was designed to make it more affordable to send men and cargo into space. It will be at least four years according to PhysOrg before the Atlas V can be modded to send astronauts into space. Until that time, US astronauts will continue to hitch a ride on the Russian Soyez spacecraft.

The agreement between NASA and ULA will have the two working to figure out the best way to use the Atlas V rocket for launching manned missions. The main competitor to ULA is SpaceX, which broke ground on the redesign of a launch facility for its more powerful Falcon Heavy rocket this month.

[via PhysOrg]