Quick look: NASA’s human space flight return

NASA teams with Boeing, Space X to bring human spaceflight back to reality

NASA
REUTERS/NASA/Handout

NASA this week said it will use spacecraft from Boeing and Space X to fly US crews the International Space Station – a deal that will end America’s sole reliance on Russia to deliver American astronauts to space. The space agency said it awarded contracts totaling $4.2 billion to Boeing and $2.6 billion to Space X  to develop, build and certify the safety of the spacecraft they will cultivate under the contracts. Here’s a look at the key players and spacecraft involved in the latest iteration of manned spaceflight.

NASA
REUTERS/NASA/Bill Ingalls

“Today we are one step closer to launching our astronauts from U.S. soil on American spacecraft,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said during a news conference at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Sept. 16.

NASA
REUTERS/NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA Public Affairs Officer Stephanie Schierholz, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, former astronaut Bob Cabana, director of NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Kathy Lueders, program manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, and Astronaut Mike Fincke, a former commander of the International Space Station (L-R) attend a news conference at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

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REUTERS/NASA TV/Handout

NASA will partner with Boeing and SpaceX to build commercially owned and operated "space taxis" that would fly astronauts to the International Space Station ending U.S. Dependence on Russia for rides. Here the Soyuz spacecraft used for such missions approaches the International Space Station (ISS) in this still image taken from video in November 2013.

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REUTERS/NASA/Robert Markowitz/

Boeing’s contribution to the space taxi program will be its CST-100.  Here we see an interior view of Boeing's CST-100 spacecraft, which features LED lighting and tablet technology.

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REUTERS

Diagram of Boeing's CST-100 space vehicle.

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REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

The other chief spacecraft is SpaceX’s Dragon. Here SpaceX CEO Elon Musk sits inside the Dragon V2 spacecraft.

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REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

The cabin of the Dragon V2 spacecraft.

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REUTERS/Bret Hartman

NASA Administrator Bolden (R) and SpaceX CEO Musk address SpaceX employees following the first successful mission by a private company to carry supplies to the International Space Station in 2012.

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REUTERS/NASA/Handout

With the Earth in the background, the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft is seen as it is grappled by the International Space Station's Canadarm2 robotic arm, May 25, 2012.

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REUTERS / Michael Brown

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will power the Dragon into space.

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REUTERS/Bret Hartman

SpaceX spacecrafts Dragon (L) and the DragonRider sit on display before NASA Administrator Bolden and SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk address SpaceX employees following the first successful mission by a private company to carry supplies to the International Space Station at the SpaceX facility in Hawthorne, Calif., June 14, 2012. The Dragon was the first privately funded spacecraft to be put into orbit and the DragonRider is the next generation spacecraft for SpaceX.

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REUTERS/Mike Blake

While Boeing and Space X are developing their spacecraft, NASA has moved along with the development of its own new ship known as Orion. Here U.S. Navy divers adjust a tow line on a test version of NASA's Orion capsule as it is towed towards the USS Anchorage during a recovery drill off the coast of California Sept. 15. Orion is NASA's next exploration spacecraft, designed to carry astronauts to destinations in deep space, including an asteroid and Mars.

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REUTERS/NASA/Handout

Technicians work on the heat shield of NASA's Orion space capsule at Kennedy Space Center.

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REUTERS/NASA/Handout

Here we see an artist's concept of the Space Launch System (SLS) sitting on a launchpad. The SLS will be designed to carry the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, as well as important cargo, equipment and science experiments to Earth's orbit and destinations beyond. Additionally, the SLS will serve as a back up for commercial and international partner transportation services to the International Space Station.

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More on new human spaceflight plans. 

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The NASA Commercial Crew logo.