Elon Musk’s SpaceX has already been conducting resupply missions for NASA to the International Space Station using its own rockets and capsules but it has now clinched something that it has longed for a very long time. NASA has ordered its first crewed mission from SpaceX, meaning that the company will fly humans up to the International Space Station in its Crew Dragon capsule, it’s going to be the first crewed launch for this capsule.
This has been a long time coming. NASA previously signed a contract with both SpaceX and Boeing under its Commercial Crew Program which guarantees that the agency will make at least four orders from both companies for crewed missions to the ISS.
SpaceX and Boeing are required to create and operate spacecraft capable of undertaking such missions as per this contract, this will eliminate the need for NASA to use Russia’s Soyuz rocket for sending crew to the ISS, it costs the U.S. $80 million to get one astronaut up there. With this program the agency will start using American space vehicles again and that too at a lower cost.
SpaceX’s first crewed mission is expected to launch in late 2017 however NASA has not yet confirmed a concrete launch date. There are concerns about SpaceX following the explosion of its Falcon 9 rocket shortly after launch earlier this year, it was on an uncrewed supply mission, the company has halted further launches until a thorough investigation is completed.