SpaceX reportedly signed a $700 million contract with NASA in December of 2015 to ship cargo to the International Space Station a total of five times in the near future.
This isn’t the first time that SpaceX has obtained a contract through NASA – there was also a time in 2008 when the company scored a contract and agreed to produce equipment for taking supplies to space.
Most of the details of the contracts are confidential, so there’s little known about what SpaceX will be taking to space, but the signing does show that NASA has the intent to use SpaceX for future space objectives.
"We order resupply flights from our commercial providers via the contract modification process based on the mission needs to resupply the international space station," said Cheryl M. Warner, NASA spokeswoman.
Despite both successes and failures, SpaceX remains one of the most reliable American commercial space companies that can provide the technology NASA needs to get its supplies into space.
Another American commercial space company, Orbital ATK, also helps to provide NASA with space delivery services, although NASA seems to tap into SpaceX a lot more.
Getting American commercial space companies to provide NASA with the resources it needs would make the United States a lot less dependent on Russia and their Soyuz spacecraft for getting astronauts to and from space, and that’s eventually one of the goals for NASA in the long term.
SpaceX has been experimenting a lot with reusable rocket technology as of late, and their latest Falcon 9 rocket is equipped to land after finishing its primary mission. Although the Falcon 9 was able to land beautifully on solid ground one time, all other recent attempts to land the rocket on a drone ship at sea have been much less successful.
Reusable rockets, if they can be perfected, will be perfect for NASA and their shipment needs, because they are significantly less expensive. Rather than paying $16,000,000 every time a new rocket needs to be used, SpaceX could just use the same rocket over again, but re-fuel it for the minimal cost of $200,000.
Combined with NASA’s recently-enlarged budget, this may mean more potential for space missions in coming years, which is perfect for the company’s growing interest in deep space missions, like sending human beings to Mars in the next few decades.
Source: Space News