Elon Musk’s SpaceX just got awarded five more missions by NASA to transport crew transportation missions to the International Space Station (ISS), as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract.
The new agreement, which builds on the existing agreement between NASA and SpaceX, is valued at $1.4 billion, bringing the total value of all the transport missions as part of the contract to $4.9 billion. SpaceX’s Dragon capsule will transport up to four astronauts, and Falcon 9 rocket will be utilized for launch, transport, and recovery missions.
This development is not entirely unexpected, given that NASA had informed in June that it was looking to purchase additional missions. At that time, NASA had intended to issue a sole source modification to SpaceX for five additional crewed, missions.
This is also the latest instance of NASA giving extensions to the CCtCap contract. Originally awarded to SpaceX in 2014 for $2.6 billion, the space agency went on to extend it and offer additional missions earlier this year. At that time, the Crew-7, Crew-8 and Crew-9 missions were awarded for an additional $900 million. A CCtCap contract was also awarded to Boeing for up to $4.2 billion for six crewed flights using its Starliner capsule.
That SpaceX enjoys a close friendship with NASA is nothing new. In August 2021, the US space agency awarded SpaceX with a $2.9 billion lunar contract, which was contested by rival space company Blue Origin. According to the contract, SpaceX would send astronauts to the moon’s surface for NASA’s Artemis program via its Starship rockets.
Bezos’ space company took NASA to court by filing a federal lawsuit regarding the matter, but went on to lose in November after a federal judge rejected its attempt to overturn NASA’s decision of rewarding SpaceX with the contract.
And now, the latest development to modify the contract puts $1.4 billion more in SpaceX’s pockets and further solidifies its position as one of the leading private space companies of the world.
The “firm fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract” modification to the contract brings the total number of missions for SpaceX to 14, and according to an official release, “allows NASA to maintain an uninterrupted U.S. capability for human access to the space station until 2030, with two unique commercial crew industry partners.”
The additional $1.4 billion for the Crew-10, Crew-11, Crew-12, Crew-13 and Crew-14 flights will not be restricted to crew and cargo transportation missions, and will include ground, launch, in-orbit, and return and recovery operations, along with a lifeboat capability while docked to the ISS.