Trio of astronauts blast off for International Space Station

Watch: Astronauts launching to International Space Station

The vehicle will be used to send Expedition 56-57 crew to the International Space Station on June 6.

"I've talked to many large corporations that are interested in getting involved in that through a consortium, if you will".

Bridenstine did not reveal which companies he was speaking to because he said that those companies could find it "hard to close the business case".

"Any assumption that ending direct federal funding frees up $3 to $4 billion beginning in wishful thinking", Martin told congress.

The space laboratory has been orbiting Earth at about 28,000 kilometres per hour (17,000 miles per hour) since 1998. In addition to the United States, other countries, such as Russia, Canada, Japan, and the European Union, participate in the International Space Station.

In a national survey of 2,541 USA adults conducted March 27-April 9, 2018, roughly seven-in-ten Americans (72%) say it is essential for the continue to be a world leader in space exploration.

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In the White House 2019 budget request, "funding would be prioritized toward supporting an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and global partners".

Mark Mulqueen, Boeing's space station program manager, was skeptical of the idea. Some 29% of this group says they would go so that they can see the view of Earth from space, while 20% want to "learn more about the world". Similarly, 18 percent consider sending astronauts to Mars to be a top priority.

Americans have not flown to space aboard US-made spaceships since 2011, when the 30-year space shuttle program was retired.

NASA has announced a plan to build a new outpost that would orbit the Moon and act as a stepping off point for future deep space exploration, and even missions to Mars.

Earth-rise on the lunar surface.

Gerst, who will be commanding the space station for the first time during his mission, referenced the steppe scenery in central Kazakhstan on Twitter Wednesday as he warmed up for the flight.

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