In a press release issued on February 28, 2022, NASA announced his desire to extend his contract with SpaceX. Elon Musk’s company will continue to transport astronauts to the ISS, at least until 2028.
Nine missions with Crew Dragon through 2028
A first contract of 2 billion euros was awarded to SpaceX in 2014 to allow the company to develop new vessels to send astronauts to the International Space Station. Elon Musk’s company kept its promises: Crew-1, Crew-2 and Crew-3 were real successes. SpaceX’s technologies work very well and NASA therefore decides to extend the duration of the contract. Until 2028, there will therefore be nine missions.
According to Kathy Lueders, associate administrator of NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate, “It is essential that we begin now to provide additional flights to the Space Station, in order to be ready when these missions are necessary to maintain a regular American presence in space”. It specifies that the American launch capability is essential to the continuation of in-orbit operations and the construction of a new model in low Earth orbit.
NASA fully trusts SpaceX
SpaceX had already planned to launch Crew-4, Crew-5 and Crew-6 but now we will also have to anticipate the launches of Crew-7, Crew-8 and Crew-9. An ideal new contract for Elon Musk’s growing business. In its press release, NASA acknowledges that SpaceX is the only American company currently certified to transport astronauts to the ISS.
Boeing has fallen far behind… At the same level as SpaceX in 2014, the American company is still in the test phase with its spacecraft. A new test flight is scheduled for May 2022. Eventually, NASA would like SpaceX and Boeing to work together to transport astronauts to the ISS. The United States is proud to once again have the technologies to send teams to the Space Station.
The modification made to the contract between NASA and SpaceX comes in a particular context, that of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. For many years (between 2006 and 2020), American astronauts were to travel with the help of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and the Soyuz spacecraft. NASA paid the Russian agency 80 million euros per astronaut to the Russian agency, against 50 million euros to SpaceX.