SpaceX has secured a task order from NASA to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station in 2017 under aÂ potential $2.6 billion Commercial Crew Transportation CapabilityÂ contract.
SpaceX has conducted the critical design evaluation phase on the Crew Dragon space vehicle and Falcon 9 rocket that comprise its crew transportation platform, the space agencyÂ said Saturday.
“Commercial crew launches are really important for helping us meet the demand for research on the space station because it allows us to increase the crew to seven,” said Julie Robinson, ISS chief scientist.
“Over the long term, it also sets the foundation for scientific access to future commercial research platforms in low- Earth orbit.”
Boeing will use its CST-100 Starliner space capsule to transport crews and cargo to ISS by 2017.
SpaceX and Boeing could perform up to six ISS crewed flight missions under the CCtCap contracts the space agencyÂ awarded in September 2014.
NASAÂ said it expects a standard commercial ISS mission to bring four crew members and 220 pounds of cargo to the space station and allow each space vehicle to stay at the ISSÂ for a maximum of 210 days in order to serve as an emergency “lifeboat.”