Astronauts Ready To Enter Space from U.S. Soil


Maximilian Looft, Author

By Maximilian Looft

Ever since the Space Shuttle Program was retired in mid-2011 due to budget constraints, the United States has relied on Russia to transport U.S. astronauts to and from the International Space Station. It has been seven years since an American has gone to space from American soil.

But on Aug. 3, it was announced at Johnson Space Center in Houston that nine astronauts would soon ride SpaceX and Boeing spacecrafts to and from the International Space Station.

Both commercial crews are set to launch sometime in 2019, with the SpaceX crew planning their launch for April and Boeing sometime around the middle of next year.

NASA astronauts include Eric Boe, from Atlanta, Ga.; Chris Ferguson, from Philadelphia; Nicole Aunapu Mann, from Penn Grove, Calif.; John Cassada, from White Bear Lake, Minn., and Suni Williams, from Needham, Mass.

SpaceX’s crew includes Bob Behnken, from St. Ann, Mo.; Doug Hurley, from Apalachin, N.Y.; Victor Glover, from Pomona, Calif.; and Mike Hopkins, from Richland, Mo.

At the Houston conference, crew members stood in front of large images of the equipment they will use to enter into space. The Boeing crew stood under the image of their CST-100 Starliner, next to their blue outfits. The SpaceX crew stood in front of the image of the sleek, white Crew Dragon capsule, and right next to it was a futuristic-looking black and white space suit.

“The NASA Crew Commercial Program has been an outstanding partnership between Kennedy and Johnson Space Center,” Bob Cabana, NASA Kennedy Space Center’s director said. “Together we’re delivering on the critical task of providing the capability to fly our crews on a U.S. built rocket spacecraft from U.S. soil… so we no longer have to rely on our Russian partners to get our crews to space.”

SFHS astronomy teacher Mr. Graham said, “I think it’s great that we can send U.S. astronauts from U.S. soil again. It’s much more cost-effective.”

According to Business Insider, it costs around $82 million to get an astronaut a seat on a Russian Soyuz rocket. By contrast, it is projected to cost $58 million to get an American astronaut into space from SpaceX or Boeing ships.

This change is a big step toward a much more prominent presence in space for the United States. Thanks to SpaceX and Boeing, America will no longer have to rely on another country to get our astronauts into space.