Heading to the Stars? Hail the Space Taxi

Boeing is developing a space taxi, which would have paying tourists accompany NASA astronauts to the International Space Station.
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Boeing is developing a space taxi, which would have paying tourists accompany NASA astronauts to the International Space Station.
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Photo Credit: Flickr/NASA's Marshall Space Flight

A new proposal from Boeing would have tourists flying to the International Space Station. The company is developing a space taxi for NASA astronauts, which would include a seat for a paying tourist.

The company now has a five-year, $4.2 billion contract to sell rides to tourists. Boeing Commercial Crew Program Manager John Mulholland told Reuters that their prices would be competitive with what the Russian space agency currently charges for tourists to fly to the orbital outpost.

"Part of our proposal into NASA would be flying a Space Adventures spaceflight participant up to the ISS," Mulholland said, referring to a space tourism company that brokers travel through Russia's Soyuz capsules.

In January, Space Adventures will begin training British singer Sarah Brightman for her 10-day visit to the Space Station. Tom Shelley, president of Space Adventures, says this trip will cost a total of $52 million. Brightman will be the eighth person in the world to travel to the station as a paying passenger.

Boeing clearly has some stiff competition. Aside from Space Adventures, there are other companies out there trying to do the same thing, like Space Exploration Technologies and Space X, which has also won a NASA contract. They say they can develop a similar taxi for 40 percent less than Boeing.

Boeing is expecting to have their first space taxi ready for test launch in 2017. 

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