I’ve been hearing about the Space Shuttle program being phased out and this upcoming flight of the Endeavour is the second to last one. The NASA Space Shuttle Program will be the things of museums after that. The last shuttle flight in February was to the International Space Station, and as I was looking at pictures of the crew of the ISS, I started to wonder how they were going to get home when the shuttles stopped flying. I found out. For just under $56 million an astronaut, they can book a ride on the Soyuz. And the price is going up in 2014 to $63 million for that one-way ticket. Now that’s what I call a pricey ticket. WTF
However, the Soyuz Program is the same one that was around in the 1960s. Designed in 1967, it’s the oldest still launching. I’m wondering how safe and comfortable the accommodations could be? Plus the Soyuz can only carry three cosmonauts, astronauts, spationauts (French), taikonauts (Chinese) or other terrestrial beings. They keep one docked up there at all times on the ISS, for emergencies, but we still have that over booking issue. And if you just factor in the actual cost to launch the shuttle per mission, that cost appears to be around $60 million. If we can pick up four, after we drop off four, even at the Russian’s cost of $112 million a round trip ticket, we can make some pretty serious buck here.
Most of us, old enough to remember, know where we were when Buzz Aldrin uttered those infamous words, “Magnificent Desolation.” He was the second man to step foot on the moon’s surface. But like most everyone else, the rocket launches and shuttle missions became almost like watching a jumbo jet take off from the airport. We simply lost interest. Now the manned program in the U.S. is on hold. We’re looking to spend the billions of dollars budgeted to NASA on trips to Mars and Venus. I don’t expect that to happen anytime soon. Maybe we should enjoy this penultimate mission of the Shuttle Program.