Spacex, Northrop Grumman to Resupply the ISS Through 2026

Spacex, Northrop Grumman to Resupply the ISS Through 2026

NASA has recently placed a new order with SpaceX. Under the Commercial Resupply Services-2 (CRS-2) contract, the government requested six further resupply sorties from the business on Wednesday. NASA also secured an order with aerospace giant Northrop Grumman, another key resupply supplier to the International Space Station, for six future trips. In 2016, NASA granted resupply contracts to SpaceX and Northrop Grumman for services until 2024. Sierra Nevada Corporation was chosen as the third vendor. 

CRS-2 guaranteed each provider a minimum of six flights, with the opportunity for NASA to acquire more missions as needed. The total potential value of all three contracts is $14 billion, however, NASA’s final cost will be determined by the number of orders received, according to the agency. The total number of flights under CRS-2 now stands at 32, with 14 missions going to Northrop, 15 to SpaceX, and three to Sierra.

22nd SpaceX mission carrying scientific research and technology to International Space Station
Spacex, Northrop Grumman to Resupply the ISS Through 2026

SpaceX has a lot of experience with these trips. Under a prior CRS contract, CRS-1, the firm performed 20 supply trips. The total payment to SpaceX for those flights was $3.04 billion, or roughly $152 million permission, according to NASA’s inspector general. Since the first resupply flight to the station in 2012, SpaceX has used its cargo Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to supply the ISS with supplies. Following its departure from Earth, the Dragon will rendezvous with the ISS and dock at the station independently.

With its Crew Dragon capsule, SpaceX also delivers crewed trips to the International Space Station. NASA has been utilizing commercial businesses to deliver supplies, equipment, and science research to and from the International Space Station (ISS or Station) since the Space Shuttle’s last voyage in 2011. 

NASA granted Orbital ATK and Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) a total of 31 flights for $5.9 billion, or an average cost of $191.3 million per mission, under its first round of Commercial Resupply Services contracts (CRS-1). 1 Following up on CRS-1, NASA granted Orbital ATK a second batch of cargo resupply contracts known as CRS-2.

SpaceX and Sierra Nevada Corporation (Sierra Nevada) have been awarded contracts worth a combined total of $14 billion, which is more than quadruple the value of the CRS-1 contracts. NASA has granted $2.6 billion in task orders for eight CRS-2 flights and associated integration expenditures as of December 2017. Cargo flights are critical to the ISS’s operations, and NASA’s ongoing dependence on private operators to deliver this critical service might play an important part in its future ambitions as it seeks cheaper and more efficient ways to explore space. 

NASA officials consider the commercial resupply contracts to be successful and cost effective, despite the fact that they account for more over 30% of the ISS Program’s yearly budget. We looked at the CRS contracts for resupplying the Station until 2024 in our audit, with a focus on the CRS-2 contracts. We looked at (1) the extent to which CRS-2 contracts give the greatest value to NASA, (2) CRS-2 prices, and (3) CRS-2 contractor technical and scheduling concerns. We investigated applicable Federal laws, rules, and standards; assessed NASA’s CRS contracts; interviewed NASA and commercial company executives; analyzed CRS spending; and reviewed relevant paperwork to achieve these goals.