American-Made Space Taxis Are the Future of the Nation's New Space Age

NASA unveiled plans for a new space age today, announcing its intention to free up the space agency's resources for a mission to Mars and other deep space exploration. US astronauts will again travel to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard American-made spacecraft, with NASA's awarding of $4.2 billion and $2.6 billion in contracts to airplane manufacturer Boeing and Elon Musk's SpaceX, respectively, to transport US astronauts to and from the space station by 2017.

Since the US Space Shuttle Program ended in 2011, NASA astronauts have been ferried to the ISS aboard Russia's Soyuz space capsule — to the cost of $70.7 million per seat. The use of Boeing's CST-100 and SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft would allow the US space mission to stop depending on foreign companies for transit to lower Earth-orbit destinations like the ISS, while freeing up NASA resources to build spacecraft intended for deep space, asteroids, and even missions to Mars. Because, as NASA administrator Charles Bolden said in today's press conference, "the nation is going to Mars."

More Mars selfies to come!