More good news for private spaceflight: $3.6 billion NASA contract awarded to SpaceX and Orbital Sciences

Thursday, December 25, 2008

SpaceX's Falcon 9.

Even more good news for the private space industry today with a large contract awarded from NASA to two private spaceflight companies, SpaceX and Orbital Sciences. Having paid much closer attention to SpaceX's progress I'm most excited about that part of the contract. As the article says, they're being contracted to deliver and return cargo to and from the International Space Station:
"This is a contract that we really need to keep space station flying, and to service space station," NASA's space operations chief Bill Gerstenmaier told reporters in a teleconference. "I think it's exciting we're doing this from a commercial side."

NASA's Commercial Resupply Services plan calls for SpaceX and Orbital Sciences to haul 20 tons of cargo to the space station through 2016. NASA has agreed to pay $1.6 billion for 12 flights of SpaceX's planned Dragon spacecraft and their Falcon 9 boosters. The agency has also doled out $1.9 billion to Orbital for eight flights of its Cygnus spacecraft.
What's even more exciting about this is that just at the moment when NASA is having to rely on aerospace agencies from other countries, private industry has just developed to the point where it's able to step in and fill a lot of that void, so the timing couldn't be any better:
NASA has been seeking commercial U.S. cargo delivery services to the space station to reduce reliance on its international partners during the anticipated five-year gap between the 2010 retirement of its aging space shuttles and the first operational flights of their successor, the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle.
Note that there's nothing wrong with cooperating with other countries in this way, but sometimes you'll see politics interfere with this like when cooperation between the US and Russia in space seemed under threat in August this year due to the war between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and Russia's subsequent recognition of the independence of the two regions.

So far there are 50 comments below the article so don't forget to take a look at those too.


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