- The space agency, NASA, announced extending the deal with SpaceX to cover five more missions.
- The partnership of SpaceX with NASA just got a $1.4 billion contract.
The contract secures a long future for SpaceX and NASA as they work together to launch astronauts to and from the ISS. The newly contracted launches extend their partnership through 2030 and bring the total contract value to approximately $5 billion for 14 fully operational astronaut missions.
SpaceX and NASA first had a deal in 2014. It covered six astronaut launches at the time and was rated at $2.6 billion. A crewed demonstration mission marked the first astronaut launch to take off from US soil since NASA’s Space Shuttle program was retired and went off in 2020.
In June, the space agency had already signaled that it intended to sign on for even more.
The contract extension of SpaceX signals NASA’s confidence that the ISS will stay in operation through 2030 and its confidence in the Elon Musk-led SpaceX.
Boeing too has a contract under the same program. Starliner, its astronaut spacecraft, has been troubled with development hurdles and technical hangups. But, recently, Boeing completed an uncrewed test flight. The company is now setting its sights on its inaugural crewed mission in early 2023.
NASA made clear that it is still confident in Boeing. Phil McAllister, NASA’s director of commercial space, said they would need additional missions from SpaceX to implement their strategy of having each commercial provider fly alternating missions once per year.
He said their goal is to have multiple providers for crewed transportation to the space station. SpaceX has been reliably flying two NASA crewed missions annually, and now they must backfill those flights to help safely meet the agency’s long-term needs.
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