SpaceX Applauds Breakthrough Compromise in U.S. Senate on NASA Budget

Press Release from SpaceX:

Legislation Supports Domestic Commercial Crew Initiatives to Reduce Reliance on Russian Soyuz and Bring Critical High-Tech Jobs Back to the U.S.

Hawthorne, CA, July 20, 2010SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies) applauds the efforts of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee for their unanimous, bipartisan approval of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010. This landmark legislation ushers in a new era in human spaceflight by embracing the commercial sector as a full partner and recognizing commercial crew services as the primary means of astronaut transport to the International Space Station (ISS).

“We are pleased that the Senate Commerce Committee has recognized that the best and only near-term option for eliminating America’s reliance on the Russian Soyuz for astronaut transportation is the development and use of commercial systems, such as SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Dragon spacecraft,” said Elon Musk, CEO & CTO, SpaceX. “For about the same amount that is currently being spent on purchasing seats on Russian launch vehicles, we can create thousands of high-tech, high-paying jobs right here at home.”

In 2010, NASA will pay the Russian Space Agency $287.4 million for 6 seats on Russian Soyuz flights, which amounts to $47.9 million per seat. By 2013, the price per seat paid to Russia to carry U.S. astronauts will exceed $55 million.

Though it provides less funding than the President’s request, the new legislation provides $312 million in FY11 funding for the development of American commercial systems to transport crew to the ISS. SpaceX is one of several companies currently developing commercial crew technology funded by NASA, including Nevada-based Sierra Nevada Corporation, Illinois-based Boeing Company, Colorado-based United Launch Alliance, Washington-based Blue Origin, Nevada-based Bigelow Aerospace, and Arizona-based Paragon Space Development Corporation.

SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon spacecraft test article in June 2010, meeting 100% of mission objectives on its first attempt. The first demonstration flight with a fully operational Dragon spacecraft is targeted for late summer 2010. This flight will be the first under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program which was established in 2006 to encourage private companies to develop commercial space transport capabilities. SpaceX currently employs over 1,100 people across California, Texas and Florida.

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