SpaceX will be launching its first commercial crew on Earth's low orbit in 2017. NASA has already placed an order for the company to administer missions to the International Space Station using the company's Dragon spacecraft.
President and COO of SpaceX Gwynne Shotwell confirmed that the authority to proceed with its first operational crew mission using the Dragon spacecraft is a significant milestone for the company's Commercial Crew Program. This would be a great source of pride for the whole SpaceX team for many generations to come.
NASA's order to SpaceX is one of two guaranteed missions. It was awarded to the company in 2014. The flights are part of the space administration's commercialized crew program that aims to cooperate with American aerospace firms. Also, the program aims to develop and operate new generations of launch systems and spaceships capable of delivering crews to Earth's low orbit as well as the International Space Station. NASA's commercial crew launches will reduce seat expenditures of delivering astronauts to the space station, as it is a fact that the space administration pays a large amount of money to the Russian's Federal Space Agency for the same provisions.
Like SpaceX, Boeing is also a part of the commercial crew program under NASA. The airplane maker received its first order last May. NASA has yet to determine when the company will be delivering its Starliner to the ISS in the future. The company is also guaranteed to space missions to the ISS. Although, each company could be receiving potentially six missions at most.
Kathy Lueders, NASA's Commercial Crew Program Manager, confirmed that the space administration is utterly excited to see both Boeing and SpaceX go on rotations for its crew missions. Although Boeing received orders from NASA first before SpaceX, it remains unclear which company will be able to complete its missions first. The space administration has yet to decide its missions at a later date.