Image credit: NASA
By Irene Klotz
NASA this week begins work to reassemble parts of the International Space Station to create parking spots for two commercial space taxis.
The reconfiguration, which is expected to be finished before the end of the year, is the first major overhaul of the station, which was completed in 2011 after more than a decade of space shuttle-based assembly missions.
With station construction finished, NASA retired its fleet of space shuttles and turned to Russia for crew ferry flights, a service that costs the United States more than $70 million per person.
NASA, which hopes to end its reliance on Russia before the end of 2017, awarded contracts to Boeing and Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, to develop, test and fly capsules that can taxi astronauts to and from the station, which orbits about 260 miles above Earth. The agency expects to pay its U.S. operators an average $58 million per person for transportation to and from the station, said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s commercial crew program.
Reconfiguring the station will open docking ports for Boeing’s CST-100 and SpaceX’s Dragon capsules. One berthing slip will be at the front end of the Harmony connecting node, where the space shuttles used to dock. The other will be on Harmony’s zenith, or up-facing, port.
Read the full article by clicking the name of the source located below.