The New Space Race

Astronaut Mike Massimino talks NASA’s new plan to launch human flights to the International Space Station.
12:29 | 09/18/14

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Transcript for The New Space Race
For the next step in space travel -- US will go back to its old ways the United States will stop using. Russian help to get to the International Space Station. And use American companies instead. Hello everyone I'm Michelle Franzen in New York NASA splitting -- six point eight billion dollar contract between Boeing and SpaceX. -- getting the main contract to set up human flights to the ISS and -- -- skating and smaller but sizable contract as well. NASA administrator Charles Bolden said the new deal will help set up the future of -- space exploration. We'll conduct missions that will each set their own impressive roster of firsts first -- to visit and take samples from and -- First crew to -- beyond the orbit of the moon. Perhaps the first crew to grow its own food any. In space all of which will set us up for humanity's next giant -- the first crude touched down on and take steps on the surface of Mars. And the talk more about the futures that could be I'm joined now by astronaut Mike mass amino thank you very much for joining us my pleasure showed -- versions -- -- with the news of this new contract in space or exploration how important is it that the US is sort of taking back and giving astronauts a new lead here and how to travel. I think this is huge and that our friends in Houston are really excited about it I'm excited about a form. What that's okay because is we're going to be launching from American soil again and my flights -- space shuttle flights. -- -- to the Hubble space telescope and we launch from the Kennedy Space Center. We stop the shuttle program a few years ago three years ago and since that -- we've been going through the space station with. The Russian Soyuz partnering with with Russia and that's a great way to get -- but it's always good have another option and it's great. To have that option be launching from the United States -- this huge fight. All of the conflict between Russian and US site that we always hear that. You know between the astronaut -- and the industry that it's not that it's still pretty good but -- feel very important. You know as DiCaprio and every -- The cosmonauts are burglar cool people you know we we get along very well them and the engineers the working relationship we have at our level is great -- that he really sure what's going on the higher levels but. -- our level when we're working day today with them they're they're part of their you know -- part of our team and and so we worked very well them and we were open space with them. But nevertheless I mean I think even -- I think even the and the cosmonauts would be happy about this too because -- another way to get the space. Occasionally you have problems you have polls of Iraqis -- you spaceship and -- -- stop for awhile. While -- figured out -- nice to have another option there. For us we were down our space shuttle. Program without a replacement on the US side we were able to travel with our. With our friends in Russia and now we have this this option coming up to to launch against from the US and its gonna get a lot more people in space and open up a lot of opportunities. And and that's exactly what we're gonna talk about here because it seems like space exploration has just sort of exploded in the last few years you've got. Sort of the maven mission to Mars and exploration there -- possible manned mission and the work you. And also Rosetta that's going to be catching up with this -- -- yes idea of how exciting than is an an is that really innovative from your perspective -- I think who quit the I think. It it all relates back to this announcement -- produce commercial crew because. You to have commercial companies providing along with staff providing access for restaurants -- go to space. I think that'll help these commercial companies with the development of sending non astronauts non that -- -- Citizens that want it would go into space the tourist. Market let's I think it's gonna help that. And the third thing is exactly what you thought about all these other things at -- doing whether it's sending people. The on the worth over -- to an asteroid -- -- -- the maven mission whether it's commission to a comment. Whatever might be NASA can focus more of their attention in the funding on those -- reaching goals and turn over or at least. -- some of the responsibility and partner with these commercial companies to go to lower -- -- I think it's a win for everybody. How important is what -- doing now and in the sense of global exploration. Is it to the next manned missions. Source global mean planned international scientific probes and how important is that to the next -- and wherever we know I think I think it's vital I don't think it's. It's arguably this man vs -- -- don't think that's the issue has I think both of those programs their large programs and -- work together. For example the rovers we have on -- -- we had before the big when we have up there now. Is goes very very slowly in the does it's does its size but it is paving the way for us to send people there so. I all these things that we're doing we're the you don't have people on board it's safe workers don't have people there it's less expensive vision of people involved but is paving the way when you -- -- -- people. So I think they go hand in it. Is it very important that this rosette this European sort of human exploration of this comment what are we gonna learn from that what can we -- It in -- in the any reason this is not liking and -- to the Hubble you know as for the -- that while Hubble. With the Hubble is able Hubble is still working very well am able to peer into the universe far beyond what we -- what we can see. But we're still it's still kind of looking you -- far but you so looking from where we are something like. Rosetta king actually go closer and him and analyze what the tale of a -- is like and what it is like a close what's that composed of and so long. So it's a different type of a different type of mission but. Were you doing in in space or expiration kind of -- -- -- -- Oltmanns together taking pictures from -- -- from her for from the Hubble space telescope. Sending a probe or spacecraft -- -- investigate. And then ultimately I think as people we like. The opportunity to send people there. To explore and -- gives you more flexibility but it also gives the opportunity to -- export firsthand. I think that's always -- -- by thinking to do these other things. First to make sure it's safe. And efficient when you go there with people. And of course NASA is talking about you know a mission. A manned mission to an asteroid by 20/20 five I think that that's likely in what would be the importance of that. I think it is likely the there asteroid mission is interesting because -- -- -- -- be paid. But it's not like another planetary surfaces no -- big -- the moon or Mars let's say. So what makes that a little -- users -- not to worry about landing and in launching again. -- when you land on the -- of the -- if you so it's a disease of the Apollo astronauts who landed on the moon. You know they felt pretty -- -- would get there but they're really worried -- also worry about getting off the attic you know they wouldn't wanna be marooned there and its that's what makes an expensive and a little bit riskier so going through an asteroid is a little bit easier because you don't have it's not a big rock -- a giant gravity field. -- kind of explore it what kind of hovering inning comeback I think the good thing about it is that it gets us report for which are right now we're in the -- orbit. I'm the space station we've been doing -- for many years even Hubble space also a little bit higher. But it's still kind of in the neighborhood called to an -- would be beyond low earth orbit -- outside of the Earth's gravitational pull. It's it's it's a doable mission because we're pretty confident we can get there get the crew back also is gives you an opportunity to learn more about asteroids there's. Somewhat of a movement of of concerned people -- -- I think rightly so that if you take a big impact from a from a big rock like -- from a meteoric Q did you do some serious damage so we learn more about them and maybe how to -- -- them as part of that mission is also -- Re directed and put into it into a different orbit. I think it could serve multiple purposes so it's an -- -- project. You know it's far enough out there that it's only -- onerous you know that it will actually happen. But I think I think -- going to be doing more now special that they have his commercial crew to take care of getting a professor of International Space Station. I think a lot of the focus is going to be on those types of missions now where you can. Go -- worth over with crew and hopefully will be. The successful mission through an asteroid may have been a margin -- -- future so I think to some exciting things. So we saw all of the contracts that were awarded private enterprise sort of taking the lead here. What will NASA's role still be -- how important is NASA in this whole scheme of things. -- any time that I I was eighteen years as a national. Anytime NASA's gonna put a person on a rocket ship they're gonna make sure it's as safe as possible. So I think that that's that's what their role is going to be -- going to be -- Americans astronauts from -- eventually civilians. They're gonna wanna make sure that it's really -- they're very -- better -- good track record of seven people space. Course -- -- some accidents even with all the oversight and careful. Procedures we have we still had problems right but I think what -- -- about this is a NASA still involved. Here we put their people border spaceship is going to be as safe as possible I think that's that's going to be their their major role is making sure that their programs from right. And of course you -- on the final mission to the service of those. Hubble space telescope is -- amazing to you after all these years you mentioned they're still learning so much that we are still learning so much. -- there's a lot out there and you know this -- me to actually got a chance to do that at all. But Hubble what was great about -- was great about the space program and -- I think one of the great things is that you say what is that. What is the most important. The piece of information and I think we're. We -- we what we've gotten is not just information but new questions. Hubbell who led to the discovery of dark energy and dark matter and that black holes exist in all these. All these things that we kind of wondered we did we have any idea what dark energy dark matter was. Dead and of this news reader can identify all the matter in the universe we -- that a provision universe so we call it dark energy dark -- and -- as yet. Mean in hadn't had a question years ago before we have -- So formulations these questions that that that we now trying -- -- answer in addition to giving us. Answers to basic things like held -- universally being -- -- exists in other plants and other sources of yet we have yes to all these so those things but wheels of new questions that we're trying to find interest a lot to learn. We really don't know what we're doing we think we do but obvious medical -- back -- -- make fun of us. Exactly so. As an astronaut of course you also -- island act scene and any -- play myself auto sector and yeah. For George Clooney was based on -- you. I'm not gonna fight that argument is much truth -- that but I want oh and don't fight -- that's quite -- compliment. And give me and I knew how to be cool and of his -- guiding -- lives so Michael -- -- must have been based I don't know but I won't fight them that. That statement from. So you've been up in space obviously do you have any desire to go back especially with all the exciting things on a taxi transport in any capacity. -- I don't know I don't I don't know they let me back -- and I would I would and I always have the thought that I would -- to go back and but for -- -- the national was more than just flying in space. I was eighteen years as and that session who -- the it was just a great career amount teaching -- but Columbia now. In the engineering -- there and I really enjoyed doing that. But being a part of the office of being a full time national not for me even Illinois -- space -- which was great but it was just fun being a part of -- organization. So the thrill of flying in space is pretty cool something I would like to do against up to stay here on the ground it's not -- -- on the ground but is the lottery hasn't just doesn't look I think I think you'd be pretty cool but I that if I don't get -- go again I'm really happy I got to go twice and I'm glad I got to go. The Hubble and fly the space shuttle for get a chance to go again. Yeah I don't think that I turned it down put but I don't know if it doesn't happen I'm okay -- -- UWU ready to go. I'm -- journalists -- -- server reporting come back to report on still would prevent the disaster note some -- like me. You say this is what it was like I think you should think I don't think the possibilities there -- astronaut Mike Massimo thank you so much for joining bush talking about the future of space travel. -- -- keep up with the story in real time by downloading the ABC news -- and starring this story. For those exclusive updates on the go for now I'm Michelle Franzen in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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