On August 31, NASA announced it purchased additional SpaceX Crew Dragon flights to launch astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) through 2030 as part of the Commercial Crew Transportation Capabilities (CCtCap) contract. The Commercial Crew Program aims to launch astronauts from American soil to the ISS approximately every 6 months until the orbiting laboratory is retired sometime in 2030.
NASA plans to conduct rotational crew flights using SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, however, Boeing’s Starliner has faced technical issues during demonstration test flight attempts and is still working to certify its spacecraft is safe to transport humans. SpaceX is currently the only American aerospace company capable of transporting humans to and from the Space Station. SpaceX already performed four operational crewed flights for NASA and demonstrated the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon is reliable to launch astronauts to the ISS.
The agency purchased five more SpaceX flights to ensure the U.S. has human spaceflight capabilities in the next ten years. In total, NASA purchased 14 crewed missions aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon and only 6 to fly astronauts on Boeing’s Starliner to the ISS. Out of the 14, SpaceX already performed four missions that are part of NASA’s first Commercial Crew Contract with SpaceX to conduct a total of six missions. The SpaceX Crew-4 mission is active with four astronauts currently at the orbiting laboratory. SpaceX will launch Crew-5 on October 4th, and Crew-4 will return soon after their arrival.
In February 2022, NASA awarded SpaceX three additional crewed missions due to Boeing Starliner development delays. This week’s announcement adds five more missions to the United States' ISS crew launch itinerary that will be launched by SpaceX. "This is a firm fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract modification for the Crew-10, Crew-11, Crew-12, Crew-13, and Crew-14 flights. The value of this modification for all five missions and related mission services is $1,436,438,446. The amount includes ground, launch, in-orbit, and return and recovery operations, cargo transportation for each mission, and a lifeboat capability while docked to the International Space Station. The period of performance runs through 2030 and brings the total CCtCap contract value with SpaceX to $4,927,306,350," said the agency in a press release.
Featured Image Source: NASA captured by European Space Agency Astronaut Thomas Pesquet
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.