How will we get into space when NASA's shuttle program shuts down this summer? We'll carpool with the Russians!
As you've probably heard, America's space shuttle program is winding down. The Endeavor's last flight will happen soon (in May, it seems, but it keeps getting delayed). Then, in June, the Atlantis will make the final shuttle flight ever when it takes four astronauts on a 12-day mission to the International Space Station.
So how will we get into space? Eventually, the government wants private companies like SpaceX and Boeing to take over. But in the meantime, we'll carpool with the Russians! As Corsair Online reports, "NASA will use the modified $753 million International Space Station contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency for crew transportation from 2014 to 2016." Like terrestrial carpooling, hitching a ride into space will save us cash. The average shuttle launch costs $1.5 billion. Riding with the Russians will be a comparatively cheap $63 million per trip.
With myriad financial pressures at home, and a host of private companies racing to establish a commercial spaceflight industry, space carpooling will allow NASA to focus on science and exploration while someone else watches the road.