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The new space race is postponed until 2018

The new space race is postponed until 2018
From Engadget - December 26, 2017

One of the biggest safety threats Boeing and SpaceX had to address was space debris. Both have to make sure their capsules are sufficiently protected from orbital debris, tiny meteors and other particles hurtling through space that could cause serious damage. Boeing plans to use 3D-printed plastic components that can endure extremely harsh environmental conditions better than other materials can. According to The Wall Street Journal's report, it also plans to fit Starliner with some Kevlar. SpaceX said it worked with NASA to define the orbital-debris environment in Low Earth Orbit and to conjure up a Dragon design that mitigates risks brought about by being pummeled with flying space rocks.

If NASA itself had concerns about safety, it certainly did its best to hide them: The agency showed tremendous confidence and trust in the program and its participants this year. It promised to award both companies four more contracts after they successfully demonstrate that their vehicles can safely carry humans to orbit. In March, ISS crew members even installed a second dock that space taxis can use when they finally start ferrying astronauts to the space station. That said, the agency is thinking up ways to ensure Crew Dragon and Starliner stay in top shape. According to Tabatha Thompson, NASA Commercial Space Program's communications lead, the agency is evaluating the use of in-orbit inspections for the capsules.

Outside of safety-related tests and regulations for their vehicles, Boeing and SpaceX both showed off their spacesuit designs this year. Between the two, Boeing's blue suit bears more resemblance to astronauts' current fashion choices, though it's 40 percent lighter than NASA's bulky suits and can keep their wearers much cooler. (Here's a little trivia: The suit was modeled by Christopher Ferguson, the last space-shuttle mission's commander and the one who left that historic American flag aboard the ISS. He's now the director of Crew and Mission Operations for Boeing's Commercial Crew Program.)

SpaceX's, on the other hand, is far removed from typical astronaut wear and has a much slimmer silhouette. That's because it's meant to be worn only inside the Dragon and other pressurized environments. It also would not look out of place at a Daft Punk concert.

2018: What's next?

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