Crew Dragon approaching ISS
Future private astronaut missions to the International Space Station, flying on vehicles like SpaceX’s Crew Dragon (above), will be charged higher prices by NASA to reflect the true cost of supporting those visits. Credit: NASA

TITUSVILLE, Fla. — NASA announced Aug. 31 that it has extended its commercial crew contract with SpaceX, adding five missions for more than $1.4 billion.

The award of the five missions, designated Crew-10 through Crew-14, came after NASA announced its plans in a procurement notice June 1 to add the missions to SpaceX’s existing Commercial Crew Transportation Capabilities (CCtCap) contract.

The extension has a value of $1.44 billion, or $288 million per mission to the International Space Station. It comes after an extension in February that added three flights to the contract, Crew-7 through Crew-9, for $776 million or $258.7 million per flight. The total value of SpaceX’s CCtCap contract, awarded in 2014 to complete development and testing of Crew Dragon followed by six operational missions, is now $4.93 billion.

NASA said in a statement that the contract extension “allows NASA to maintain an uninterrupted U.S. capability for human access to the space station until 2030.” That comes from the combination of SpaceX’s extended CCtCap contract along with Boeing’s own CCtCap contract for six flights of its CST-100 Starliner commercial crew vehicle.

NASA officials have previously stated that, once Starliner is certified to carry NASA astronauts, they will alternate between Starliner and Crew Dragon missions to the ISS. That would start with the first operational Starliner mission in the fall of 2023, assuming a successful crewed test flight of Starliner now scheduled for no earlier than February.

The next SpaceX commercial crew mission, Crew-5, had been scheduled for early September but was delayed in July when the Falcon 9 booster that will launch the mission was damaged during transport from California to Texas for testing. That mission, carrying NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina, is now scheduled for launch Oct. 3.

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...