NASA to order five additional Crew Dragon

NASA plans to order five additional Crew Dragon spacecraft. They will be used to deliver American astronauts to the ISS.

Crew Dragon in space. Source: NASA

In 2014, NASA signed contracts with Boeing and SpaceX to deliver American astronauts to the ISS. Under the terms of the agreement, each company received an order for six regular missions to orbit (this number does not include qualification flights required for certification of spacecraft by NASA).

While the Boeing spacecraft has yet to complete certification, SpaceX is already implementing its fourth regular mission to the ISS. Because of this, NASA bought three more Crew Dragon spacecraft this spring. The order was made by modifying the original contract between SpaceX and NASA for the delivery of people to the ISS. Its amount was increased by USD 778 million.

Now NASA plans to make another change to the contract, including five additional flights. The aerospace administration cites delays in the commissioning of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft as the main reason for this decision. Its first test flight with a crew will take place no earlier than the end of 2022, and the first regular mission to the ISS — no earlier than the spring of 2023. By that time, Crew Dragon will have already completed its six missions under the original contract. In this situation, NASA wants to be safe and be able to deliver astronauts to the ISS regardless of the pace of Starliner refinement.

The order of additional Crew Dragon also indicates that NASA intends to continue operating the ISS until 2030. At the same time, it is still unclear when exactly Russia will leave the ISS and in what format the “divorce” will be carried out. But judging by the order of the new spacecraft, NASA believes that this will not be a critical factor and the station will continue to exist until the end of this decade.

According to

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