A real space race is under way between Boeing and SpaceX, and all this involves a small American flag.
For seven years, we relied on Russia for races at the International Space Station. Boeing wants to be the first company to transport the American astronauts there as soon as next summer, but SpaceX does it too. Both companies will run competing space taxis for NASA, reports Mark Strassman at CBS.
Anyone who arrives first will have the opportunity to ceremonially bring back a small American flag that remained in 2011 when the Space Shuttle Atlantis took its last flight. Shuttle commander Chris Ferguson has positioned the flag as a symbol, but now sees it as a goal.
"The next astronaut launched from the American ground who docked at the space station would bring the flag home," he told Mark Strassman of CBS. Boeing is producing a capsule that will bring Ferguson and NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Eric Boe, which means Ferguson could recover the same flag he left.
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That is, unless SpaceX arrives earlier. The company is developing its own ship called Crew Dragon, which is supposed to transport NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the Space Station. Hurley flew the flight that raised the flag first.
"I have no problem with a small healthy competition," Hurley told CBS. "It makes you better and makes it better and makes both companies better, and in the end, who benefits from it?" We get redundant access to space. "
A recent study by the Puget Sound Regional Council concluded that "the state of Washington and the central region of Puget Sound are positioned to conduct exploration and development of commercial space". They currently make up about $ 1.8 billion of economic activity, with about 6,221 jobs supported throughout the economy.
Whether Boeing or SpaceX arrive first, it is certain that the astronauts will do something more than just a flag.