NASA awarded a shared Spacecraft Processing Operations Contract to SpaceX and Astrotech Space Operations worth up to $100 million for work conducted over the next decade. “Under the Spacecraft Processing Operations Contract, NASA will issue a fixed-price, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract that has a potential 10-year ordering period. The maximum total contract value is $100 million across all contracts supporting operations from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, as well as Vandenberg Space Force Base in California,” announced the agency in a press release on February 3rd.
“The contract also includes a special on-ramp provision to enable additional providers and incumbents to submit proposals introducing new commercial processing facilities and support services not available at the time of the initial award. The ordering period runs from approximately February 2023 to February 2033,” said NASA.
The contract operations will be managed by NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center. As part of the program, the agency will plan the launch of a wide range of payloads on uncrewed missions, such as “delivering spacecraft that observe the Earth, visit other planets, and explore the universe – from weather satellites to telescopes to Mars rovers and more.”
“NASA will issue task orders for the facilities and services necessary to perform pre-launch processing of spacecraft and associated rocket flight hardware of the completed payload stack before being delivered to the launch pad,” shared agency representatives.
SpaceX has a payload processing facility at Kennedy near historic Launch Complex-39A. As of today, SpaceX has supported payload processing for 26 NASA Commercial Resupply Services missions to the International Space Station (ISS) which delivered hundreds of science research and vital equipment to the orbiting laboratory. SpaceX is also expected to build another payload processing hangar in the area for Starship operations at the Kennedy Space Center where it is building a massive launch tower to support future missions.
NASA, SpaceX, and Astrotech have worked together to prepare payloads for launch. Astrotech has been providing spacecraft launch services for NASA since 1985, when it deployed the TELESAT-1 communications satellite through the STS-51D Space Shuttle mission. Astrotech has helped process 371 payloads to date, the latest payload processing Astrotech worked on was the U.S. Space Force’s USSF-44 mission which carried two classified satellites and small rideshare payloads for the military. The USSF-44 mission was launched to orbit by SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket in November 2022.
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Featured Image Source: NASA
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.