The deal cements a long future between SpaceX and NASA, as they work closely together to launch astronauts to and from the ISS. The contract tasks SpaceX with launching five more crew missions to the ISS – from Crew-10 to Crew-14 – and “allows NASA to maintain an uninterrupted U.S. capability for human access to the space station until 2030, with two unique commercial crew industry partners,” per NASA.
The two agencies first penned a deal back in 2014. At the time, they agreed to combine forces for six crewed launches at a contractual amount of $2.6 billion, as CNN reported. Their first crewed demonstration mission took off in 2020, and SpaceX has handled routine launches ever since, with its fifth mission set to launch in October this year.
NASA is banking on Boeing’s first CST-100 Starliner capsule to fly astronauts to the International Space Station by February 2023, explained the space agency. However, since November 2020 and up until today, SpaceX has been the only company authorized to send certified crewed missions to space on behalf of the space agency, per Space.com.
As NASA explains, SpaceX’s fourth crew rotation mission for NASA, the Crew-4 mission, is currently in orbit aboard the ISS. The contracted missions will keep utilizing SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket transportation with up to four astronauts, along with cargo, up to the ISS.