23 December 2008
Announcements - Vehicles (Good)
A Good Day for SpaceX
Wins NASA contract as Falcon 9 hardware heads to Canaveral
by Alan Breakstone
Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) won a NASA contract to send cargo to and from the International Space Station ( ISS). The ISS Cargo Resupply Services (CRS) contract requires SpaceX to carry at least 20,000 kg of cargo to the orbiting complex, for a value of $US1.6 billion. NASA might elect to order more cargo missions worth up to US$3.1 billion.

“This is a tremendous responsibility, given the swiftly approaching retirement of the Space Shuttle and the significant future needs of the Space Station," said SpaceX founder and CEO, Elon Musk said in a press release. "This also demonstrates the success of the NASA COTS program, which has opened a new era for NASA in US commercial spaceflight.”

How does this relate to space tourism? The Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon space capsule to be used for the space station contract are meant to eventually fly with people. SpaceX is also competing for another NASA contract to send crewmembers to the ISS using Falcon 9/Dragon. This would be a giant step toward commercial orbital spacecraft that can carry passengers.

The contract win (also won by Orbital Sciences Corporation) comes as the first flight-worthy Falcon 9 vehicle is arriving at the SpaceX launch site, Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral. SpaceX CEO Musk reports that "it's just a matter of days before F9 is vertical at the Cape."
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Alan Breakstone 23 December 2008
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