SpaceX earned a multi-million NASA contract this month, according to Orlando Business Journal the funds earned are $7.5 million to manufacture rocket parts for NASA and involves testing some aspects of their Falcon 9 rocket Merlin engine, other details have not been released yet. The rocket company is headquartered in Hawthorne, California, but this work will take place at the Florida Space Coast's Kennedy Space Center. SpaceX also has plans to build a 68,481-square-foot hangar and administration building on approximately 22 acres near Kennedy Space Center, to work on this and other projects. They are scheduled to finish the project by April 2020.
The Kennedy Space Center, is undergoing other changes at Launch Complex Pad 39A as well. SpaceX began to install a large steel structure to accommodate their next generation rocket. The the steel structure will be a launch mount for Starship and Super Heavy test flights. Pad 39A has been leased by SpaceX from NASA since 2014. The first prototypes of Starship are currently under construction in Florida and Texas. This will be the most massive rocket SpaceX has ever built. Though, funding of Starship development is not from NASA, mostly from a private customer named Yusaku Maezawa who desires to go on a voyage around the moon. Read more: SpaceX Starship will take Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa on a journey around the Moon.
SpaceX has earned many contracts with NASA and are currently working on several different projects in coordination with the space agency. A project that is actively under development is NASA's Commercial Crew Program contract. This is a $2.6 billion contract that funded SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft development to carry astronauts to the International Space Station for the very first time next year. Dragon is now in its final phase of testing, this phase involves an In-Flight Abort test, which is critical to get approval for manned flights. NASA and SpaceX announced that the In-Flight Abort test demonstration for Crew Dragon is scheduled for no earlier than January 11, 2020 adding that they are still pending flight approval from the U.S Air Force.
.@NASA & @SpaceX are now targeting no earlier than Jan. 11, 2020 for an In-Flight Abort Test of the #CrewDragon spacecraft from Launch Complex 39A at @NASAKennedy.— NASA Commercial Crew (@Commercial_Crew) December 18, 2019
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They announced, "NASA and SpaceX are targeting no earlier than Jan. 11, 2020, for a critical In-Flight Abort Test of the Crew Dragon spacecraft from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, pending U.S. Air Force Eastern Range approval." Both, SpaceX and NASA see developing spacecraft to safely carry out manned missions as their highest priority because NASA has been contracting Russian services to take astronauts to space for years, since 2011 when the space shuttle program was ended. NASA wants to provide funding for American rocket companies to launch from American soil soon.
In 2020, we will witness SpaceX and NASA's collaboration take fruition during the first manned mission from American soil in nearly a decade.
SpaceX was also approved by NASA, along with other companies, to bid for delivering equipment to the moon one day -under NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, scheduled for the year 2022 before NASA's Artemis mission to launch humans to the lunar surface.
Today, we’re announcing five new companies who are joining our #Artemis program & will be eligible to bid on deliveries to the surface of the Moon: @blueorigin, @ceres_robotics, @SierraNevCorp, @SpaceX & @TyvakNanoSat.— NASA (@NASA) November 18, 2019
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SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell stated, "We’re leveraging NASA initially for cargo and science, so I think it’s a nice stepping stone and a nice path to getting comfortable with the technology … so that it’s reliable enough to put people on-board." NASA views the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program as a stepping stone for their Artemis mission, that aims to put the first astronaut woman plus crew on the moon by 2024, then establish a long-term lunar base by 2028. NASA is searching for the best aerospace company to achieve it, there is a high probability that it could be SpaceX.
Article featured image source: SpaceX and NASA. Edit by Tesmanian.
About the Author
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.