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NASA calls on SpaceX to send astronauts to ISS
by Staff Writers
Miami (AFP) Nov 20, 2015

Tesla recalls all Model S cars worldwide for seatbelt fix
New York (AFP) Nov 20, 2015 - Tesla said Friday it was recalling all 90,000 of its Model S luxury electric cars sold worldwide since 2012 after discovering a security problem with seatbelts.

The front seatbelts failed to correctly fasten, but no accidents or injuries had been reported as a result, Tesla said, in a blow to its stellar reputation.

In an email to customers, Tesla said it was ordering the recall as a "proactive" step after learning of a Model S in Europe with a front seatbelt "that was not properly connected to the outboard lap pretensioner."

"This vehicle was not involved in a crash and there were no injuries. However, in the event of a crash, a seatbelt in this condition would not provide full protection," the email said.

The notice said the company had inspected 3,000 vehicles and found no issues, but "we have decided to conduct a voluntary recall as a proactive and precautionary measure to inspect all front Model S seatbelts and make absolutely sure that they are properly connected."

Tesla's cars have been in high demand, despite a price tag of $70,000 and up, and the vehicles had won much praise -- until a recent Consumer Reports review which highlighted problems with the Model S.

Some analysts see Tesla's innovations as driving a new model for the auto sector, and predict it can grow from its small base into a major producer.

Tesla plans to unveil its Model 3 electric car aimed at less affluent buyers in March 2016.

Model 3, whose price is estimated at $35,000 -- half the cost of other Teslas -- is seen as key to expansion for the carmaker, which has a loyal following among well-heeled buyers.

SpaceX received orders Friday from the US space agency to send astronauts to the International Space Station in the coming years, helping restore US access to space, NASA said.

The announcement was a formal step in a process that began earlier this year when Boeing was given the nod by NASA to send crew to the orbiting outpost by late 2017.

Both Boeing and SpaceX have received billions in seed money from NASA to restore American access to the ISS, after the US space shuttle program was retired in 2011.

The announcement of $4.2 billion for Boeing and $2.6 billion for SpaceX was made in September 2014.

Boeing announced in January that it would be the first, sending a piloted mission aboard its CST-100 Starliner capsule by late 2017.

However, in Friday's announcement, NASA said that "determination of which company will fly its mission to the station first will be made at a later time."

SpaceX is already flying cargo missions to the ISS, and is working on a crew version of its Dragon capsule to carry astronauts.

The announcement marked the "second in a series of four guaranteed orders NASA will make under the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts," the US space agency said.

"The Boeing Company of Houston received its first crew mission order in May."

Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, said "it is important to have at least two healthy and robust capabilities from US companies to deliver crew and critical scientific experiments from American soil to the space station throughout its lifespan."

The ISS is expected to remain operational until 2024.

Since the shuttle program ended in 2011, the world's astronauts have relied on Russia's Soyuz capsules for transport at a pice of some $70 million per seat.

"The authority to proceed with Dragon's first operational crew mission is a significant milestone in the Commercial Crew Program and a great source of pride for the entire SpaceX team," said Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating office of SpaceX.

"When Crew Dragon takes NASA astronauts to the space station in 2017, they will be riding in one of the safest, most reliable spacecraft ever flown. We're honored to be developing this capability for NASA and our country."


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