NASA: Commercial spacecraft program 'fits right in with Alaska'
Boeing test launched its Starliner from Cape Canaveral Friday morning. The spacecraft is slated to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.
The program could mean more opportunity for Alaska's Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak, according to NASA's Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard.
"We want to again launch American rockets right on American soil, and that fits right in with Alaska in the future," said Morhard. "We're going to be having the opportunity to expand human space exploration as well as the science part of it too. And that's really why I see the pacific space port complex having greater opportunities in the future than its ever had before."
Morhard, who was appointed to the position last year by President Donald Trump, has an Alaska connection. He worked for U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens and is a survivor of the plane crash that killed Stevens in 2010.
"I think I left a part of my heart in Alaska," Morhard said. "I look forward to the next opportunity to be able to return."
Since the retirement of NASA's shuttle program in 2011, NASA has been purchasing seats on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to transport astronauts to and from the ISS.
"In the Apollo era, we owned and operated the spacecraft. We're trying to make sure our commercial partners get to the point where they can provide heavy lift and it's human rated," Morhard explained. "That's really creating a greater economy in space, a space economy."
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