The Most Expensive Taxis In The World Set To Launch, Literally

If you think taxis are expensive where you live, that ain’t nothin’ compared to the cost of taxis that will shuttle U.S. astronauts between the earth and the International Space Station beginning in 2017.

Boeing and SpaceX currently are in the planning stage for test launches of their private space taxis—called Dragon V2 and the CST-100, respectively—following a $6.8 billion contract they were awarded by NASA under NASA’s commercial crew program.

Seats aboard Dragon V2 and the CST-100 should go for about $58 million each (presumably, the tip is included), far cheaper than the current fare of $70 million per seat charged by Russia for the use of its Soyuz spacecraft to deliver astronauts to the International Space Station. The U.S. has used the Soyuz since 2011, when the Space Shuttle program ended.

“The contracts we’ve signed with our industry partners Boeing and SpaceX are vivid examples of American innovation at work,” NASA administrator Charles Bolden said. “We’ve seen the return of an American launch industry and the in-sourcing of work and jobs back to U.S. shores. Our reliance on a commercial space enterprise where we hand off low-Earth orbit transportation to the private sector is critical to our journey to Mars.”

SpaceX, which received $2.6 billion in the contract, plans to launch its first “abort test” for the Dragon in the next month or so, the company said. (An abort test is a test of a launch escape system to determine how well the system could get the crew of a spacecraft to safety in an emergency on the launch pad.) If all goes well, the company expects to run a second abort test later in 2015.

After those two tests, SpaceX plan to launch an uncrewed test flight late in 2016, with its first crewed mission coming in early 2017.

Boeing, which received the balance of the award, is expecting to launch its first abort test on the CST-100 in early 2007, with an uncrewed flight to the space station launching in April 2017. The company plans to have its first official mission to the station off the ground by the end of 2017.