KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLORIDA – After the massive success of SpaceX’s re-usability of their rockets and Crew Capsule, NASA has announced a bold new plan to make spaceflight even cheaper. NASA will stop their previous practice of simply throwing away crew members in favor of re-using them.
In a partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program – NASA’s program that seeks out commercial companies to provide launches for their spacecraft, NASA’s newest program – the Reusable Crew Program (or RCP, as the insiders call it), is estimated by experts to save the country billions of dollars in lost productivity and training of new crew members.
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In a joint press conference with NASA’s Administrator Jim Bridenstine and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, Musk said the following:
You know, we’ve really come a long way since the days of the Apollo program in the 60s. I tried buying an ICBM from Russia because I wanted to go to space, and Russia wouldn’t sell to me at a decent price. So instead, I made my own space company and have effectively bankrupted the Russian space program. But more to the point, it was about showing the world that yes, in fact, we can launch and land rockets in order to use them again.
A new beginning at NASA
NASA chief Bridenstine weighed in, saying:
So that really got us thinking about what other things we could potentially re-use. And not just rockets or launchpads. But the crew members as well.
Bridenstine later added:
And heck, maybe we can even re-use the fuel if we’re smart about it.
Often referred to as one of the ‘most public secrets’ of NASA, the agency has been expending crew members once they made it to orbit, or in the days of Apollo, the moon.
Previously, NASA had spent millions over the course of its 60-year history paying for memorial services for astronauts they left behind in space.
Bridenstine explained the thought process behind re-using the same crew members on future missions:
I mean think about it. We’ve spent all this effort and put all this energy into training our astronauts and launching them up in the air, we never even stopped to think about bringing them back down so we can use them again. It’s really mind boggling when you think about it. I mean this is NASA. We’re in America. Land of the free, home of the brave. Our astronauts deserve better than to just be left up there in space.
Bridenstine also noted the human cost, too:
We did the math, and realized it’s actually cheaper for us in the long run to return our astronauts home to their families. And it saves me from having to have awkward conversations with families every time we launch someone into space.