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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

NASA revamps, delays commercial space taxi work

• Irene Klotz via
 Budget cuts in a program to spur commercial space taxis will likely keep the United States dependent on Russia to fly astronauts to the International Space Station until 2017, NASA's head of space operations said on Thursday.

But the newly revamped program, intended to provide a commercial alternative following the recent retirement of NASA's space shuttles, comes with a silver lining: NASA is abandoning plans for traditional fixed-price contracts and instead will use less expensive and more flexible partnering agreements.

"It's one small step for Commercial Crew," said Bigelow Aerospace attorney Michael Gold, referring to NASA's space taxi development program. "And one giant leap for common sense."

The switch was spurred by the halving of NASA's $850 million Commercial Crew program budget request for the year that began October 1 and by NASA's determination to keep at least two space taxi designs in the running for the agency's future business.

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