“Return of human spaceflight:” NASA to announce private space shuttle deal


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — NASA will make a “major announcement” later Tuesday about its plans to partner with the private sector to transport astronauts to the international space station.

The space agency said it will hold a news conference at Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 3 p.m. CDT to discuss “the return of human spaceflight launches to the United States,” according to a brief statement on its website.

NASA ended its Space Shuttle program in 2011 amid funding concerns and a shift in priorities to exploring deep space.

The agency is expected to award a contract to one or more private aerospace companies to shuttle astronauts back and forth to the space station.

Since the shuttle program was retired, NASA crewmembers have been hitching rides on Russian Soyuz spacecraft, at a cost of $70 million per seat, according to a NASA spokeswoman. The agency typically purchases six seats per year.

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