BoeingÂ (NYSE: BA) and SpaceX haveÂ secured four additional missions each to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station as part of NASA‘s Commercial Crew Program.
NASA said Wednesday that Boeing and SpaceX eachÂ have six orders for crewed missions nowÂ under theÂ companies’ respectiveÂ 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 addressÂ schedule and financial uncertainty for commercial providers.
The new awards currently do not include payments andÂ are meant to help contractors plan for the missions and address space station transportation needs, NASA noted.
Boeing’sÂ CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’sÂ Crew Dragon commercial crew spacecraft will work to carry up toÂ four astronauts andÂ 220 pounds of cargo as well as feature a lifeboat functionÂ to evacuate astronauts from ISS in case ofÂ 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 ofÂ long-duration human spaceflight within the low-Earth orbit.
Boeing’s uncrewed flight test, dubbedÂ Orbital Flight Test, is scheduled forÂ June 2018 while the company’s crewedÂ flight test is slated for August 2018.
SpaceX plans to conduct itsÂ Demonstration Mission 1Â uncrewed flight test inÂ November and perform aÂ crewed flight test in MayÂ next year.
Actual missions to ISS will begin once flight tests are complete and NASA has issued certifications for providers.