What's the Latest Development?

A manned mission to the International Space Station has been delayed a month and a half after a Russian Soyuz rocket experienced a technical malfunction. During a test of the craft, air pressure was accidentally pumped too high, so another rocket is being readied to replace it, with delays, of course. While NASA obviously trusts the Russian program it relies on to shuttle American astronauts to space, it is looking to the domestic private sector for an alternate solution. In 2012, NASA will spend $406 million funding private industry.

What's the Big Idea?

Commercial space taxis may be ready as early as 2017 but that depends on the funds available in the meantime. Tests of commercial spacecraft, however, are moving forward. This April, the California-based SpaceX will test launch its Dragon capsule, meant to facilitate manned missions. A couple other private companies, including one which has a NASA contract to resupply the ISS, are running rocket tests in the sub-orbital range, hoping to break the barrier into space later this year.

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