back to article Bye, Russia: NASA wheels out astronauts, describes plan for first all-American manned launch into orbit since 2011

NASA today introduced to the world the American astronauts set to ride an American rocket into low-Earth orbit from American soil, a journey that will be the first of its kind since the final Space Shuttle launch in 2011. If all goes to plan, Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will lift off from a Kennedy Space Center launchpad …

  1. EvilGardenGnome
    1. VAXman65

      Re: Look at 'em

      Maybe, but when they finally Take Off, it should be a beauty way to go!

    2. RobThBay

      Re: Look at 'em

      Who could forget Bob and Doug McKenzie?

  2. martinusher Silver badge

    Manual control

    I'd expect the manual control panel to be just a single largish touchscreen situated between the two passngers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Manual control

      Soyuz is definitely the Lada of space vehicles. We must just hope that NASA hasn't created the Range Rover.

      1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

        Soyuz is definitely the Lada of space vehicles -- really?

        We have always had an ability to service the ISS from the moment it was put up there. There has never been a time when the ISS has been unmanned, after its launch.

        And for the last decade or so only Russia has had that ability. And their kit is just so reliable. Why change what works?

        Beer to the Russians!

  3. redpawn Silver badge

    Way Cool...

    bet it will still cost $79 million to send up an astronaut up with the Dragon, but US contractors will get an increase in their cut and we will be free of Putin's influence. Just kidding.

    1. AlgernonFlowers4

      Re: Way Cool...


      NASA will likely pay about $90 million for each astronaut who flies aboard Boeing's CST-100 Starliner capsule on International Space Station (ISS) missions, the report estimated. The per-seat cost for SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule, meanwhile, will be around $55 million, according to the OIG's calculations.

      To put those costs into perspective: NASA currently pays about $86 million for each seat aboard Russia's three-person Soyuz spacecraft,

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: Way Cool...

        I wonder how long it will take for SpaceX to catch up with Boeing's pork barrel govt pricing structures. Though I suppose with the fiasco of the 737 Max Boeing need all the cash they can get. Though flying in a Boeing capsule you would wonder how many testing shortcuts they have made. The failure of their last launch being a case in point.

        I also note that SpaceX took the least from NASA to develop a moon lander. If I was a US taxpayer I would want to buy SpaceX where possible. They look like good value for money.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Way Cool...

          SpaceX has not developed a Moon lander. It isn't developed till it has been proven to work! Designed possibly, but:

          "He wrote that the Starship’s propulsion system is “notably complex and comprised of likewise complex individual subsystems that have yet to be developed, tested, and certified with very little schedule margin to accommodate delays.”

          Assessment of risks in proposal

        2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

          Re: how long for SpaceX to catch up with Boeing's pork barrel govt pricing

          Elon wants to colonise Mars. That cannot be done with pork. Pork has to be spent in as many states as possible so politicians will vote for more pork. Pork has to be spent on specific contractors so politicians get campaign funds. The goal posts have to be moved every year to justify/cause delays and budget increases.

          Elon wants to keep control so he can select the most cost effective parts, have them made by the most cost effective manufacturer and focus on a strategy to lower the cost of access to space and hence get to Mars. When NASA wants something he was going to build anyway he will bid for it. Commercial crew turned out more expensive financially then Elon expected but gave him access to NASA's experience with human spaceflight.

          Falcon 9 has decreased the cost of access to space as far as it can because the payload is expensive. SpaceX is demonstrating the benefits of mass produced payloads (Starlink). If that catches on there will be a market for an even more cost effective launcher (Starship). Rocket Lab are following a similar business plan: the Electron rocket is cheap now, they are demonstrating the benefits standardised payload components and their rocket should drop in price when it becomes reusable.

          Porkspace has a clearly limited lifespan (my guess: a decade). This is why they a racing to get every possible contract before it becomes obvious to voters that their politicians are buying antique boondoggles.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: how long for SpaceX to catch up with Boeing's pork barrel govt pricing

            Falcon 9 has decreased the cost of access to space as far as it can because the payload is expensive. SpaceX is demonstrating the benefits of mass produced payloads (Starlink). If that catches on there will be a market for an even more cost effective launcher (Starship).

            Not sure mass-produced payloads is really a benefit given the typical satellites. So it benefits Starlink as that needs a lot of cheap satellites for coverage & to make the business case stack up. Other satellites are produced in much smaller quantities. Plus the paperwork, ie limited GEO slots, and whether any increase in LEO swarms will lead to increased regulation. But reducing launch costs might make it easier to launch science projects and share launches. Or just having more launches available brings costs down due to increased supply and competition. Thinking things like Earth observation projects, especially long duration things like climate studies. There, a lifespan of a few years doesn't give as much data, especially when they're long-term observations.

            Pork-wise, that'll still be a thing given government funding for projects, military and civil. SpaceX has already captured a chunk of that for development and previous launches.. Which is sensible given the US doesn't want to rely on either Russian launches, or technology, ie Russian/Ukrainian engines. But given the number of competing launch systems in development, customers should be able to drive down their costs. It'll be interesting to see how many competing launch companies the market can support though.

            1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

              Re: how long for SpaceX to catch up with Boeing's pork barrel govt pricing

              Mass produced satellites are likely to remain a rarity for the foreseeable but mass produced satellite buses are a thing (for small values of 'mass'). As the cost of entry to space falls due to cheaper launchers they're likely to become much more popular and thus cheaper which in turn. . .

        3. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Way Cool...

          Nasa have basically funded the next few months development on starship (and superheavy) to see if SpaceX can get it to work.

          If they can then it provides huge capability, far beyond the originally requested specification, and that could be immensely valuable.

          With the lunar landing propulsion located half way up the craft as well, it has the potential to land near structures without covering everything in regolith - which would be nice.

    2. Tomato42 Silver badge

      Re: Way Cool...

      $79 million won't buy you a single engine on the SLS, so getting people into orbit for that kind of money is a comparable bargain

  4. Jan 0


    If cost rather than shame was the driving factor, I expect that they'd be buying a Chinese launch package.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Cost?

      One of the benefits of a US launch system is the astronauts won’t be required to learn to speak Russian. But I would laugh if they had to learn Mandarin instead.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cost?

        I don't know, it doesn't take long to learn "blyat" and "yob".

    2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Probably because

      when you search on AliExpress for 'launch package' the closest thing you'll find is "Rocket Pattern Wall Stickers".

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All auto?

    Hasn't brought in Tesla to make the auto-pilot, has he?

    1. Spherical Cow Bronze badge

      Re: All auto?

      Well, the first stage can already park itself.

    2. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: All auto?

      To be fair there isn't much to collide with on the way up, is there? No white long loaders, no concrete dividers, no old ladies pushing bikes in the dark.

      Also Tesla always say it is not an Auto Pilot, it's a driver assist unit and the driver should always have their hands on the wheel, their foot over the brake and be alert ready to take over. Most of the accidents have been people failing to do that. I expect that happens a lot as people 'I'll just do this' because they can. Just like with normal cars it's all the normal lapses of attention which are a problem, it's the lapses at the wrong moment which are.

      And there's the mistakes. I still vividly recall the time not long after I got my license (aged 15) when I pressed the accelerator instead of the brake and surprisingly managed to get the car in the closing gap between the car turning and the car coming out of the side road. I'm still not sure how I managed it. That they should both have been giving way to me doesn't change the issue, they weren't.

  6. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Hollywood-real world feedback loop

    The future has arrived, we now have cool-looking space suits.

  7. taxman

    Ah, the memories

    Looking at the capsule and fins behind it I am strongly reminded of the capsule of Fireball XL5!

  8. Anonymous John

    "For nearly a decade, the US space agency has relied on Russian Soyuz rockets taking off in Kazakhstan.".

    It has from the start of the ISS programme. Crews need a means of return permanently available. Even if a Shuttle could have stayed in orbit for six months, it wouldn't have been a sensible option.

  9. Neoc

    "SpaceX's reusable Dragon ball..." I see what you did there! Now we just need to find the other 6.

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