With NASA looking ahead to Mars, the space agency has tapped some private space firms to fill the near-Earth need to keep the International Space Station (ISS) stocked. Now we know which companies will be filling that need through 2024.
NASA has awarded a round of contracts to SpaceX, Orbital ATK and Sierra Nevada to work within the agency’s Commercial Resupply Program. They’ll pick up the load by carrying cargo to the station from 2019 through 2024 to keep the aging space base operational. As The Verge notes, this deal represents a re-up for SpaceX and Orbital ATK, with Sierra Nevada joining the fold with its Dream Chaser spaceplane. The program serves the dual purpose of keeping the ISS stocked and also letting these companies test out and develop new and exciting space tech. Win, win.
SpaceX will be using its Dragon cargo capsule strapped to a Falcon 9 rocket; Orbital ATK will use its Cygnus cargo craft on either the Antares rocket or United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket; and Sierra Nevada will use its Dream Chaser and an Atlas V rocket. Missions will be spread out across the companies, with four missions per year beginning in 2019, and will include mass and volume requirements (specific to each craft).
As funding issues continue to cause problems for the development of NASA’s Orion crew capsule and Space Launch System (SLS), it’s somewhat encouraging to see the resupply initiative take a step forward.
(Via The Verge)