SpaceX wins $1.4bn NASA contract for five more flights to the ISS

While Boeing continues testing the Starliner spacecraft, NASA will continue to rely on SpaceX to reach the International Space Station
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

SpaceX Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 at Launch Pad 39A.

Image: SpaceX

SpaceX will be responsible for taking astronauts on at least five more flights to the International Space Station (ISS), NASA said this week, as part of a contract worth more than $1.4 billion. 

Including these trips, the private firm will be responsible for at least 14 crewed missions to the ISS, allowing NASA to access the space station without interruption until 2030. For all 14 of these missions, NASA has awarded more than $4.9 billion to SpaceX, the company founded and run by Elon Musk. 

NASA astronauts have been relying on SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft to reach the ISS since 2020. The agency retired its own space shuttle program in 2011 with plans to rely more on the nascent commercial space industry. In 2014, the government agency awarded two major contracts to bring the plan to life: Boeing received $4.2 billion to build the Starliner, while SpaceX was granted $2.6 billion to build the Crew Dragon.

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However, the Starliner has been hit with delays. In May of this year, the spacecraft finally completed an unmanned flight. Boeing plans to test the spacecraft with humans aboard no earlier than February of next year

"It's really important we have the Boeing spacecraft also flying," NASA associate administrator Bob Cabana said back in May. "We want that dissimilar redundancy between SpaceX and Boeing so that if there's a problem with one, we still maintain access to our International Space Station." 

Before NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) was fully operational with the help of SpaceX, NASA astronauts relied on the Russian Soyuz program to travel to the ISS.

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