NASA has ordered a second post-certification mission from SpaceX to take its astronauts to the International Space Station. Direct flights from Florida’s Space Coast to the International Space Station (ISS) will enable US crews to devote more of their valuable time to research.
Elon Musk’s space transport services company SpaceX has not disclosed its estimated cost of the mission, or how it will pay for it but the estimated cost of the mission is predicted to be around $300 million on Red Dragon.
This points only at one direction that NASA is slowly but surely declaring its independence from Russia when it comes to shuttling astronauts to the International Space Station. Till now American astronauts are dependent upon Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, to hitch a ride to the ISS. While it’s been working, it hasn’t come without its costs — Roscosmos charges NASA around $80 million per person for the trip. The first such mission from SpaceX was ordered in November 2015, and two others were ordered from Boeing, one in May and one in December 2015.
Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program said “The order of a second crew rotation mission from SpaceX, paired with the two ordered from Boeing will help ensure reliable access to the station on American spacecraft and rockets. These systems will ensure reliable U.S. crew rotation services to the station, and will serve as a lifeboat for the space station for up to seven months”
SpaceX met the criteria for this latest award after it successfully completed interim developmental milestones and internal design reviews for its Crew Dragon spacecraft, Falcon 9 rocket and associated ground systems, Nasa told.
The time for the actual mission would be after two- three years as the orders under the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability contracts are made now. The final approval will be given to the company that will complete its certification.