NASA Selects SpaceX to Resupply the International Space Station
[Satellite Today 12-29-08] NASA has selected the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft from Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) for the International Space Station cargo resupply services contract award, SpaceX announced Dec. 23.
The contract, valued at $1.6 billion with options for additional missions for a cumulative total contract value of up to $3.1 billion, guarantees a minimum of 20,000 kilograms to be carried to the International Space Station.
SpaceX will deliver pressurized and unpressurized cargo to the International Space Station, and return cargo back to Earth. Cargo may include both NASA and NASA-sponsored payloads requiring a pressurized or unpressurized environment. SpaceX will provide the necessary services, test hardware and software, and mission-specific elements to integrate cargo with the Dragon delivery capsule.
“This is a tremendous responsibility, given the swiftly approaching retirement of the Space Shuttle and the significant future needs of the [International] Space Station," said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX. "This also demonstrates the success of the NASA COTS [Commercial Orbital Transportation Services] program, which has opened a new era for NASA in U.S. commercial spaceflight.”
SpaceX was named a winner under NASA’s COTS competition in 2006. Under the existing COTS agreement, SpaceX will conduct the first flight of its Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft in 2009. The final flight, currently scheduled for 2010, will demonstrate Dragon’s ability to berth with the International Space Station.
Musk said he expects to have the Falcon 9 launch vehicle fully intergrated for its first launch by Dec. 31.