SpaceX's footprint on the space station is getting stronger and stronger, and now NASA has signed a $ 3.5 billion contract with the company for three new launches The new contract will include the Cru-7, Cru-8 and Cru-9 missions, but NASA has announced that it may order more manned launches in the future. SpaceX began sending NASA astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2020.
The Demo-2 mission marked the end of a period after NASA retired its space shuttle fleet In 2011, he had no direct access to the orbital laboratory, during which time he had to send astronauts to the station on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The agency was also working with business partners to design new spacecraft.
In October, NASA launched a tender for these new proposals to send astronauts. Released to the space station. This new round of contracts comes after 12 missions that were originally awarded to SpaceX and its Boeing counterpart, and now the first three launches have been scheduled.
Although this The deal was already under way, but the new announcement comes as tensions following Russia's invasion of Ukraine have affected NASA's relationship with Russia as its main partner in the International Space Station. "SpaceX missions will enable NASA to maintain the United States' ability to provide uninterrupted human access to the space station," the space agency said in a statement.
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The Crow-6 mission, the latest in a series of previously ordered flights with SpaceX, is expected to arrive in early 2023. Throw space. Cruy-3 astronauts including Raja Chari, Kayla Barron and Thomas Marshburn of NASA and European astronaut Matthias Maurer are currently on the station.
The Crow-4 mission, which is scheduled to launch on April 15, includes Robert Hines, NASA's Jessica Watkins, and The European Space Agency's Samantha Cristoforetti will replace the Crow-3 astronauts. . "The current state of contracts does not preclude further future changes to additional transportation services if necessary," the agency said.
And selected Boeing for manned flights to the International Space Station. The Boeing spacecraft, called the Starliner, has not yet made a successful test flight.
The spacecraft's first unmanned test flight failed to reach the space station in December 2019 due to software and communication problems. Subsequent attempts have been delayed several times, but although an exact date has not been announced, it is expected to be finalized later this year.> Credit: NASA