NASA Awards SpaceX, Orbital ATK, and Sierra Nevada Corporation for Three ISS Contracts

NASA Awards SpaceX, Orbital ATK, and Sierra Nevada Corporation for Three ISS Contracts

In order to ensure the critical science, research and technology demonstrations onboard the International Space Station (ISS), NASA has awarded three cargo contracts to the three American companies. The three companies: SpaceX, Orbital ATK, and Sierra Nevada Corporation have been selected to provide cargo resupplies to the ISS with a total potential worth of up to $14 billion. Both SpaceX and Orbital ATK have already been successful at delivering cargo to the space station. Orbital ATK has had four successful missions to the International Space Station and SpaceX has six. Both companies have also each suffered a launch failure in the performance of the previous contracts.

According to sources, each company will be provided with six flights as per the contract between the years 2016 through 2024. SpaceX has the potential to carry 13,228 pounds of cargo up to the station and return 6,614 pounds. It delivers cargo to the space station using its Dragon capsule. The company is also having contract with NASA to develop its Dragon spacecraft to carry astronauts to the space station as well. Main aim of these Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-2) contracts is to obtain cargo delivery services to the space station, disposal of unneeded cargo, and the return of research samples and other cargo from the station back to NASA.

Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator, said that NASA’s latest announcement is a big deal that will move the president's vision further into the future. The contracts include funding ISS integration, flight support equipment, special tasks and studies, and NASA requirement changes. Kirk Shireman, ISS Program manager at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, said that engaging American companies to work with NASA on cargo transportation is a key step in advancing scientific knowledge for the benefit of all humanity.

Julie Robinson, chief scientist for the ISS Program, said that these missions will act as vital for delivering the investigations and experiments that will help NASA and its partners to continue its important research.