NASA hiring astronauts but lacking space shuttles to fly them

Washington, November 16: NASA is looking to hire more astronauts to send into space, despite having a shortage of spaceships.

NASA space shuttle fleet has retired and the agency’s final shuttle mission was launched on July 8, 2011.

The number of active space-flyers too has dropped – from 150 in 1999 to 61 in 2011. Many veterans of NASA’s astronaut program have either retired or left the agency to join other industries.

An American astronaut is currently aboard the Russian Soyuz spaceship on its way to the International Space Station (ISS) and another few each year will take part in similar Russian-led missions for six-month stays.

According to reports, Nasa hopes to purchase trips for astronauts on American-built commercial rockets in about three to five years.

However, NASA’s chief remains undeterred and says that human spaceflight remained “alive and well”.

“As we enter this new era of commercial spaceflight, there will be even more opportunities for those… who want to fly,” CBS quoted NASA chief Charlie Bolden as saying during a briefing.

“We’re now setting our sights on even more distant horizons… we’re once again ready to go where no man or woman has gone before,” he added. (ANI)