Elon Musk's SpaceX launch has been getting much attention following grand plans to send manned missions to Mars. While the company is preparing for this ambitious mission, Space X should also prepare for its new contract with NASA. The space agency awarded four contracts for transporting astronauts to the International Space Station to Boeing and SpaceX.
On Tuesday, Jan. 4, NASA awarded contracts to SpaceX and Boeing to deliver the crew to ISS. According to NASA, the contracts "do not include payments at this time." While the SpaceX launch prepares for other missions, this opportunity can be good for the company. In fact, both Boeing and SpaceX are interested in the mission as this will help them plan their future missions.
NASA's Commercial Spaceflight Development Division Director Phil McAlister explained the benefits of awarding this mission. According to him, this will make ISS rotation schedules more stable. At the same time, it can reduce financial uncertainties.
Transporting Astronauts In Space
Currently, NASA relies on Soyuz, a Russian spacecraft, to deliver its crew to ISS. This was NASA's sole means of transferring astronauts to the space station. As early as 2013, NASA hinted plans of discontinuing ties with Russia's services for space travel.
As reported by RT News, Russia announced in May 2016 that its contract with NASA will not be renewed. The said contract will end in 2018 which means that the agency needs to look for another way. With its deadline drawing near, NASA had to find another way to send its astronauts to space.
According to Space, both SpaceX and Boeing will conduct manned flight tests in 2018. SpaceX Dragon spacecraft will have an unmanned test flight in November 2017 and a crewed mission in May 2018. Boeing CST-100 Starliner will test the spacecraft in June 2018 and do a crewed testing by August.
Given the need to learn more about space, commercial space flights could be the answer. The Boeing and SpaceX launch under the Commercial Crew Program can play a vital role in NASA's future missions.