Lawmakers demand answers from Boeing, SpaceX over delays in space program

WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group)- Lawmakers on Capitol Hill gathered Wednesday to evaluate the progress National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Boeing and SpaceX have made in developing a spacecraft to carry astronauts to the International Space Station and beyond.

Since the end of NASA’s shuttle program in 2011, the space agency has sent their astronauts to the ISS via Russian Soyuz rockets. The price tag for a round-trip ticket per astronaut is more than $80 million, according to a Government Accountability Office Report. However, the contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscocosmos) may lead to a gap in presence of United States astronauts on the ISS.

“NASA’s contract with Roscosmos permits it to delay the use of the final seat by up to 6 months to late spring 2019, with a return flight approximately 6 months later. NASA has not yet developed a contingency plan to ensure an uninterrupted presence on the ISS should the Commercial Crew Program experience further delays,” the report stated.

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Space invited witnesses from Boeing Space Exploration, NASA, SpaceX and the U.S. Government Accountability Office to Wednesday’s hearing. This was the subcommittee’s second hearing in three months to follow up on projects devoted to the future of human spaceflight. In Nov. 2017, the subcommittee met and discussed the Space Launch System (SLS), the Orion crew vehicle, and improvements to ground infrastructure for those projects.

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