Nasa, the US space agency, has awarded Elon Musk’s SpaceX three additional crew-transport flights to the International Space Station through 2028. With this, SpaceX’s total commercial crew transportation (CCtCap) contract has increased to $3.49 billion. The original $2.6 billion contract was issued to SpaceX in 2014 for the development of American crewed launch capabilities.
SpaceX has delivered, successfully launching three operational missions, Crew-1 through Crew-3 (plus one crewed test flight) to the International space station via its Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket since 2020.
Before this, SpaceX was contracted to fly three more missions to the ISS: Crew-4 and Crew-5 in 2022 and Crew-6 in 2023. However, the SpaceX contract now runs through March 31, 2028 SpaceX’s next crew mission to the ISS, its fourth, is set for April 15.
In the past, Nasa had acknowledged that Musk’s SpaceX is the only American company certified to transport crew to ISS. Previously, Boeing also received a six-mission CCtCap contract from NASA in 2014, with a total value of $4.2 billion. Boeing has struggled to resolve glitches with its Starliner vehicle. Boeing plans a second Starliner uncrewed test flight in May 2022.
NASA intends for the SpaceX and Boeing Commercial Crew programmes to work in tandem to fly astronauts to the ISS.