A revolution in a sentence - the future of human spaceflight in America | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

21 August, Wednesday


A revolution in a sentence - the future of human spaceflight in America

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This year, American astronauts will go back to space in American rockets.”

This one sentence from the 2019 State of the Union address may have escaped your notice. It ended a paragraph in which the president paid tribute to astronaut Buzz Aldrin of the Apollo 11 mission to mark the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. From that point, the speech transitioned to increasing the standard of living for Americans in the 21st century. A small sentence, perhaps. Maybe perceived by some as a throwaway line. But behind these 12 words lies a revolution in how Americans will get to space in the future.
 
Americans have not flown to orbit aboard an American rocket or from an American launch pad since July 8, 2011. This gap of nearly eight years and counting is the longest in our history, eclipsing the six-year gap between Apollo-Soyuz in 1975 and the Space Shuttle program in 1981. Since the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011, the United States has paid Russia approximately US$75 million per seat to launch U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz spacecraft from a launch site in Kazakhstan.
 
However, as noted in the State of the Union, things will change in 2019. American astronauts are scheduled to fly to space from U.S. soil this summer, aboard three separate launch systems, developed not by the U.S. government and its contractor workforce, but instead by commercial spaceflight companies. It is a change that heralds a new era in manned space travel.

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