NASA gave SpaceX the green light for crew transportation in late 2020 and the fourth SpaceX crew is currently in orbit around the International Space Station. File Photo by Joel Kowsky/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 1 (UPI) -- NASA has awarded five new missions to private exploration company SpaceX in a deal worth $1.4 billion that will transport astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station over the next eight years.
The contracts were awarded as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Transportation Capability contract (CCtCap), an initiative that opens the door for business with the private sector, the space agency said.
"The [deal] includes ground, launch, in-orbit, and return and recovery operations, cargo transportation for each mission and a lifeboat capability while docked to the International Space Station," NASA said in a statement. "The period of performance runs through 2030 and brings the total CCtCap contract value with SpaceX to [$4.9 billion]."
The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft won the most recent contracts over Boeing's Starliner capsule, both of which have been competing for the NASA dollars. Both companies have earned a combined $5 billion in contracts from the agency to develop spaceships for 20 missions to the space station.
Among the 14 missions won so far by SpaceX, four have been used to test human spaceflight. None of the six missions awarded to Boeing have yet tested the capability for human flight.
NASA gave SpaceX the green light for crew transportation in late 2020 and the fourth SpaceX crew is currently in orbit around the space station.
Production delays and additional work on the Starliner capsule has also cost Boeing an additional $688 million. The ship, which traveled to the International Space Station in May without a crew, is scheduled to carry a crew for the first time in February.
SpaceX is also building the lander for NASA's Artemis III mission, scheduled for 2025, which will return humans to the moon for the first time since 1972.
American flags wave in the breeze after a second launch attempt was scrubbed for the Artemis 1 mission on Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., on September 3, 2022. NASA plans to try again in the coming weeks. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo