NASA is presently not accepting applications for its astronaut candidate program, according to its website — but SpaceX and The Boeing Company could be.
Public records show the potential ramifications of NASA’s award this past week of $4.2 billion to Boeing and $2.6 billion to Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies to complete the certification process toward taking NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS), ending reliance on Russia. The Boeing Company has its CST-100 and SpaceX has its Dragon V2.
The Rio Grande Valley’s positioning in space development is nothing short of meteoric. Amid NASA’s announcement last Tuesday, United Launch Alliance and Blue Origin LLC, an aerospace company owned by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, announced their partnership in developing rocket engines in the United States toward ending reliance on Russian engines. ULA is a venture of The Boeing Company and Lockheed Martin.
SpaceX, which develops its own engines, has begun the development of the world’s first private commercial vertical launch complex at Boca Chica Beach near Brownsville, where its Falcon 9 rocket would be launched. The groundbreaking is Monday.
ULA has a manufacturing facility in Harlingen. Parts of the rockets that would catapult the CST-100 to low Earth orbit are manufactured here. A decision has not been made where the engines will be manufactured, the Star learned Friday.