With the final flight of NASA's shuttle Atlantis due to take place later this week, it will bring with it an end to the capability of the USA to send its own astronauts into Space. I'm sure it is going to be a very sad day for many when Atlantis makes its final landing after a 12 day mission to the International Space Station (ISS), and many people I am sure will be left shaking their heads in disappointment.
The US will now be reliant on Russia for future astronaut transportation to the ISS until such time as privately developed commercial crew transport becomes available, hopefully in the next few years but with no guarantees as to time scale. Quite coincidentally today I came across this graphic which shows the yearly cost per seat the US will have to pay on board the Russian Soyuz capsules. According to Charlie Bolden, current Nasa Administrator, the price is going up due to inflation and not because the Russians are taking advantage of their monopoly. Perhaps true, but inflation would seem to be very high at the moment!
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Scientist, researcher and author - but above all just a human being with a natural interest in and curiosity about life!