SpaceX to take astronauts to Space Station

NASA has contracted SpaceX to launch astronauts to the International Space Station.  NASA calls it a significant step toward expanding research opportunities aboard the ISS.

This is the second contracts to shuttle astronauts.  Boeing got the first contract in May.

NASA say the decision on which company will fly a mission to the station first will be made at a later time.  The hope is the first mission will take place in 2017.

Commercial crew missions to the space station, on the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, will restore America’s human spaceflight capabilities since the Space Shuttle program was ended.

NASA says the commercial launches will be less expensive than relying on the Russian space program to move astronauts.

A standard commercial crew mission to the station will carry up to four NASA or NASA-sponsored crew members and about 220 pounds of pressurized cargo. The spacecraft will remain at the station for up to 210 days, available as an emergency lifeboat during that time.