The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced on Wednesday that it will extend its contract with the private space transportation company SpaceX to cover five additional missions. This will result in an increase in the value of the partnership between the two organizations by $1.4 billion.
As a result of their collaboration to transport personnel to and from the International Space Station, SpaceX and NASA will have a secure and stable future thanks to the contract. The newly contracted launches will continue their relationship until the year 2030 and will raise the overall contract value to nearly $5 billion for 14 astronaut flights that are fully operational.
In 2014, SpaceX and NASA signed their first agreement together. It included coverage for six different astronaut launches and had an estimated value of $2.6 billion at the time. In the year 2020, NASA carried out a crewed demonstration mission, which marked the first astronaut launch to take off from US territory since the Space Shuttle program was discontinued. This mission was a crewed demonstration mission. Since then, SpaceX has been in charge of normal launches, and the company is planning to send its fifth fully operational trip into space this fall.
This pact builds on an extension of a contract that NASA offered SpaceX in February for three extra flights of the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft. The space agency had already suggested in June that it wanted to sign on for even more flights when it gave SpaceX the extension of the contract.
In a blog post from that period, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said that they have decided to keep the International Space Station operational until 2030. “Because of this extension, additional crew rotation trips are going to have to be flown in order to maintain a safe and sustainable flight cadence over the entirety of the space station’s remaining planned operations.”
Recent events have cast doubt on whether or not the International Space Station will continue to function past the year 2030. This is because Russia, the United States’ primary partner on the ISS, has recently threatened to end space station cooperation in the midst of mounting geopolitical tensions caused by the country’s invasion of Ukraine. However, NASA has stated on multiple occasions that it is certain the space station would continue to operate in the same manner as it always has. Due to the fact that the Russian-controlled component of the space station provides the essential propulsion to maintain the International Space Station (ISS) in orbit, NASA is unable to acquire full control of the ISS at this time.
The extension of NASA’s contract with SpaceX demonstrates the space agency’s faith in both the continued operation of the International Space Station (ISS) beyond the year 2030 and in Elon Musk’s leadership of SpaceX, which, in spite of some early cultural tensions with the space agency, has become one of NASA’s most trusted contractors.
On the other hand, Boeing (BA) likewise possesses a contract under the aforementioned program. The company’s astronaut spaceship, which goes by the name Starliner, has been plagued with development problems and technical snags, but Boeing has just finished an uncrewed test flight. Now, the corporation is focusing its efforts on launching its first crewed expedition sometime in the early years of 2023.
NASA has made it abundantly clear that it continues to have faith in Boeing. In a statement released in June, NASA’s director of commercial space, Phil McAllister, commented on the agency’s decision to extend SpaceX’s contract by saying that “(h0)wever, we will need additional missions from SpaceX to implement our strategy of having each commercial provider fly alternating missions once per year.”
According to McAllister, “Our objective has always been to have a number of different providers for crewed transportation to the space station.” “SpaceX has been reliably flying two NASA crewed missions per year, and now we must backfill those trips to assist the agency in meeting its long-term needs in a safe manner.”
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