The deal secures a long future for SpaceX and NASA to work together to launch astronauts to and from the International Space Station.The newly contracted launch extends the partnership through 2030, bringing the total contract value of 14 fully operational astronaut missions to nearly $5 billion.
SpaceX and NASA first signed a contract in 2014. 6 such astronaut launches and was valued at $2.6 billion. A crewed demonstration mission, which marked the first astronaut launch to take off from the continental United States since NASA’s Space Shuttle program was retired, began in 2020. take off this fall.
The deal also builds on a contract extension NASA provided to SpaceX in February. 3 additions The flight of the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, and the space agency had already sent the signal June It was meant to sign on further.
“In December 2021, NASA announced an extension of the International Space Station to 2030,” the space agency wrote. blog post at the time. “This expansion will require additional crew rotation missions to maintain a safe and sustainable flight rhythm throughout the remainder of the space station’s planned operations.”
Continuing to operate the ISS until 2030 has recently been called into question. That’s because Russia, a major US partner on the ISS, has threatened to cut space station cooperation amid growing geopolitical tensions over its invasion of Ukraine. But NASA has repeatedly said it is confident the space station will continue to operate as before. NASA cannot currently take over the space station on its own, as the portion of the space station controlled by Russia will provide the propulsion necessary to keep the ISS in orbit.
SpaceX’s contract extension shows NASA’s confidence that the ISS will continue to operate until 2030, and its confidence in SpaceX, led by Elon Musk. Despite early culture clashes It has grown to become one of NASA’s go-to contractors.
In contrast, boeing(Bachelor) are also subscribed to the same program. Its astronaut spacecraft, called the Starliner, has been plagued with development hurdles and technical hang-ups, but Boeing recently completed an unmanned test flight. The company now has its sights set on his first manned mission in early 2023.
NASA has revealed it still has confidence in Boeing. “[h]However, it will require additional missions from SpaceX to execute the strategy of each commercial provider alternating missions once a year,” said Phil McAllister, NASA’s director of commercial spaces. We made a statement in June about our decision to extend our contract with SpaceX.
“Our goal has always been to have multiple providers for manned transportation to the space station,” McAllister said. “SpaceX has reliably flown NASA’s manned missions twice a year, and now needs to backfill those flights to safely meet NASA’s long-term needs.”