My friend, Rich Newell, asked me a question the other day and, while there is in fact a tie-in for Everyday Spacers, this is slightly off topic, and I will delve into an answer. I just realized that other people probably wonder the same thing.
‘Since the space shuttle system retired, how do we get to ISS (International Space Station) now?’
The short answer: “We can’t”
Not as a nation.
“The station is serviced by Soyuz spacecraft, Progress spacecraft, the Automated Transfer Vehicle, the H-II Transfer Vehicle, and formerly the Space Shuttle. It has been visited by astronauts and cosmonauts from 15 different nations. On 25 May 2012, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (or SpaceX) became the world’s first privately held company to send a cargo load, via the Dragon spacecraft, to the International Space Station.” ~Wiki
Commercial providers to the rescue?
In the interview “Space For Sale” I found through Facebook [Thank You Brook Mantia!], Jonathon Card, executive director, SFF (Space Frontier Foundation) reveals some of the potential, long term answer. He thinks 12 companies are ready to step up and fill the void.
Most significantly, SpaceX is actually launching a payload to ISS this month. They launched a test module last May which landed back on Earth recently completing the mission successfully.
The tie-in for us is asked in “Space For Sale”by Elizabeth Wahl, ‘Will regular people get to go?’ Jonathan replies ‘What’s the point otherwise?’ I totally agree.
Why not join the conversation by attending an event?
NewSpace 2013 July 25-27, Silicon Valley
Special thanks to Jeff Miller for all his help and support on this article.