The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken in the Crew Dragon capsule, lifts off from Kennedy Space Center, Fla., on Saturday, May 30, 2020. The SpaceX Demo-2 mission is the first crewed launch of an orbital spaceflight from the U.S. in nearly a decade.
Joe Burbank | Orlando Sentinel | Getty Images
NASA on Wednesday announced it has awarded five more astronaut missions to Elon Musk’s SpaceX, with a contract worth an additional $1.4 billion to the company.
The extra flights fall under NASA’s Commercial Crew program, which delivers astronauts and cargo to and from the International Space Station. SpaceX is currently on its fourth operational human spaceflight for the agency.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft has been competing with Boeing and its Starliner capsule for contracts under Commercial Crew. While both companies have now been awarded nearly $5 billion to develop and launch their respective capsules, SpaceX has won 14 missions and Boeing has won six. The latter has yet to launch astronauts with Starliner.
Due to delays, and the fixed-price nature of NASA’s contracts for the program, Boeing has absorbed $688 million in costs from delays and additional work on the capsule. After successfully completing an uncrewed Starliner flight to the ISS in May, the company now aims to carry astronauts for the first time in February.
Between SpaceX and Boeing, the agency has awarded contracts for 20 flights to date, covering crew missions until 2030 when the ISS is expected to retire from use.