In a recent piece for HuffPost’s The Hill, former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and ASP Consensus Member Tara Sonenshine discussed the public diplomacy value of NASA’s announcement of $8.6 billion in contracts to SpaceX and Boeing.
These private companies will transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station, effectively ending our reliance on Russia for space travel. There have been two launches of American astronauts by the Russian space program since the explosion of the situation in Ukraine this February. A single seat on a Russian transport costs $70 million USD.
As Sonenshine says, “The deal sets the scene for a new and exciting chapter in American space travel at a time when Americans need a “boost.”” She goes on to suggest the success of these programs has the potential to be just as, if not more, empowering for the American psyche and reputation as the 1977 launch of the space shuttle.