NASA has ordered its first mission from SpaceX to carry astronauts to the International Space Station, six months after placing a similar order with Boeing.
“It’s really exciting to see SpaceX and Boeing with hardware in flow for their first crew rotation missions,” Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, said today in a news release. “It is important to have at least two healthy and robust capabilities from U.S. companies to deliver crew and critical scientific experiments from American soil to the space station throughout its lifespan.”
Both companies are developing space taxis for NASA’s use as early as 2017, under the terms of multibillion-dollar contracts that were awarded last year.
Even though the first order went to Boeing, it has not yet been determined whether Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule or SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule will go first. The contracts required NASA to put in its orders early, but the scheduling decisions and required certifications will be made at a later time.