An anonymous reader writes: When talking about the nine year gap since America last flew astronauts with their own spacecraft, it’s often said that NASA didn’t have a plan in place when they retired the Space Shuttle. But the reality is a lot more complicated than that. NASA was working on a new spacecraft and rocket, and even made a successful test flight two years before the last Shuttle flight, but the program ended up getting canceled when the White House Administration changed.
A review concluded that completing the program “would cost at least $150 billion dollars, and even then, a return to the Moon or a mission to Mars in the foreseeable future was unlikely,” according to the article. Money was instead allocated to private alternatives like Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser spaceplane as well as Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner — though in the end it was SpaceX’s Crew Dragon which would launch the next American rocket carrying American astronauts into space.
“The dark horse soundly beat the entrenched giants,” the article concludes, “and the democratization of space has never been closer.
“It’s hard to predict what the next decade of human spaceflight will look like, but there’s no question it’s going to be a lot more exciting than the previous one.”
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