NASA said Wednesday that Boeing and SpaceX each have six orders for crewed missions now under the companies’ respective Commercial Crew Transportation Capability contracts with the space agency.
Phil McAlister, director of NASA’s commercial spaceflight development division, said the additional missions will aid the stability of the crew rotation schedule and address schedule and financial uncertainty for commercial providers.
The new awards currently do not include payments and are meant to help contractors plan for the missions and address space station transportation needs, NASA noted.
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon commercial crew spacecraft will work to carry up to four astronauts and 220 pounds of cargo as well as feature a lifeboat function to evacuate astronauts from ISS in case of an emergency.
The Commercial Crew Program aims to increase the number of astronauts aboard the space station and provide more time for research to study the impact of long-duration human spaceflight within the low-Earth orbit.
Boeing’s uncrewed flight test, dubbed Orbital Flight Test, is scheduled for June 2018 while the company’s crewed flight test is slated for August 2018.
SpaceX plans to conduct its Demonstration Mission 1 uncrewed flight test in November and perform a crewed flight test in May next year.
Actual missions to ISS will begin once flight tests are complete and NASA has issued certifications for providers.