NASA has requested another five astronaut missions from Elon Musk ‘s company with a new multi-million dollar agreement.
NASA has tasked SpaceX with managing another five missions to send its astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) by the end of the decade. The space agency has asked the aerospace manufacturing company run by tycoon Elon Musk to handle five new launches for a $1.4 billion contract.
As reported by the Reuters agency , NASA undertook this new agreement with the firm of the billionaire who also owns Tesla Motors and Neuralink so that his company manages five more trips to the International Space Station , thus bringing the total number of missions contracted to SpaceX to 14. for his Crew Dragon astronaut capsule .
NASA and SpaceX will extend their collaboration
The most recent expansion of the contract between SpaceX and NASA responds to an effort by the space agency to guarantee a constant record of flights with astronauts to the ISS, especially now that Boeing – the other aerospace manufacturing company with which it has a similar transport – suffered complications to finalize the new launch of its Starliner space capsule.
” NASA is permitted to maintain uninterrupted United States capability for human access to the space station through 2030, with two unique commercial crew industry partners ,” the space agency said in its statement.
SpaceX and Boeing , the two commercial crew partners, won multimillion-dollar contracts with NASA in 2014 to develop, test and routinely fly space capsule systems to send astronauts to and from the ISS , the orbiting research laboratory. which has housed international astronaut crews for more than two decades.
NASA and the status of its contracts with SpaceX and Boeing
Since becoming certified in 2020, SpaceX has used its reusable Crew Dragon capsule successfully on some five crewed missions to the International Space Station , becoming the first private company to send humans into Earth orbit and reviving the program. NASA ‘s manned spaceflight that had been on hiatus since the withdrawal of the US shuttle program in 2011.
On the other hand, Boeing and its CST-100 Starliner capsule did not have the same fate as it suffered a delay in its takeoff due to software problems and valve malfunctions. The company’s first manned flight has been postponed until February 2023 and it seeks to pass one last test mission before NASA can certify the spacecraft as fit for routine astronaut flights.
NASA initially ordered six manned missions from each company, but ordered three more from SpaceX in early 2022 due to technical problems experienced by the Boeing capsule .