SpaceX notches next step in race with Boeing to crewed flights

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The successful unmanned Crew Dragon trip from SpaceX to the International Space Station this weekend put the United States a tempting step closer to the day when American rockets will once again transport the nation’s astronauts into space.

At some point this summer, both Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and Elon Musk’s Boeing Co. are scheduled to launch teams to the ISS, which will end a long drought in which the United States has had to climb the Soyuz capsules From Russia. NASA awarded them contracts worth up to 6,800 million dollars in 2014 for US astronauts. UU Travel to the ISS, dividing what is known as the commercial crew program to avoid a monopoly.

Saturday’s launch of the crew cabin from Florida and Sunday’s docking at the ISS marks “an important milestone for SpaceX and for the nation,” Taber MacCullum, president of the Federation of Commercial Space Flights, said in a statement. “This mission brings us one step closer to restoring American access by American astronauts, in American rockets, from US soil to the ISS for the first time since the space shuttle retired in 2011.”

SpaceX can arrive first, in July, according to the way the test schedules are being configured, and Boeing follows it only a few weeks later. In addition to the lucrative launch business, both companies see space tourism as a future source of income. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg congratulated Musk on a tweet for reaching the test milestone.