The United States’ spending on space taxis is set to double. This is the next phase of NASA’s “Commercial Crew Program,” which is aimed at researching alternative ways to send astronauts to the space station other than the Russian Soyuz Capsule. Since the retirement of the space shuttle, having only one way to fly to the International Space Station (the Russian Soyuz Capusle) puts the project in jeopardy. NASA has invested more than $350 million already in six companies in order to get a US space transportation system flying again in the next five years.
For the next phase of the program, the agency is looking for at least two partners to flesh out their designs and integrate their spaceships into a full-fledged transportation system that includes launch, mission operations and landing. Discovery News reports:
NASA has more than $300 million for the program this year, and expects to be able to spend up to $500 million per partner between this summer, when awards will be announced, and May 2014, when this phase of the program ends. Companies bidding for the work also are being asked to determine how much they need to get to an orbital test flight, as well as what they’d be able to do with a flat budget of $400 million a year.