A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken in a Crew Dragon capsule lifts off from Kennedy Space Center, Florida on Saturday, May 30, 2020. The SpaceX Demo-2 mission is the first manned orbital spaceflight launch from the US in nearly a decade.
Joe Burbank | Orlando Guardian | Getty Images
NASA announced Wednesday that it has awarded five more astronaut missions to Elon Musk’s SpaceX with an additional $1.4 billion contract for the company.
The additional flights fall under the NASA Commercial Crew program, which ferries astronauts and cargo to and from the International Space Station. SpaceX is currently undertaking its fourth manned spaceflight for the agency.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft competes with Boeing and its Starliner capsule for contracts under the Commercial Crew program. While both companies have now received nearly $5 billion to develop and launch their respective capsules, SpaceX has won 14 missions and Boeing has won six. The latter has not yet launched astronauts from Starliner.
Due to delays and the fixed price of NASA’s program contracts, Boeing covered $688 million in costs for delays and additional work on the capsule. Following the successful completion of the Starliner unmanned flight to the ISS in May, the company now plans to deliver astronauts for the first time in February.
To date, the agency has awarded contracts between SpaceX and Boeing for 20 flights, covering crewed missions through 2030, when the ISS is expected to be decommissioned.