SpaceX and Northrop Grumman join forces to service the ISS through 2026

Russia was threatening to drop out, so the West had to step up to the plate.
Loukia Papadopoulos
The SpaceX Dragon.SpaceX/Twitter

Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin made headlines around the world when he stated that the U.S. would have to use “broomsticks” to fly into space since Russia would no longer make its rocket engines available to the U.S. companies. And although NASA Administrator Bill Nelson played down the comments at the time, there is no doubt that traveling to space may soon become more complicated.

That's why NASA is planning ahead. According to a statement by the space agency released on Friday, 12 additional missions have been ordered under its Commercial Resupply Services-2 (CRS-2) contracts to ensure continuous science and cargo delivery for the agency and its international partners to the International Space Station.

New missions ordered

The new missions would go to Northrop Grumman and SpaceX (six each) and will provide resupply services to the station through 2026. This is not the first time the space agency turns to American companies to meet its space needs.

Back in In 2016, NASA awarded three American companies CRS-2 contracts to resupply the International Space Station.

“Few would have imagined back in 2010 when President Barack Obama pledged that NASA would work ‘with a growing array of private companies competing to make getting to space easier and more affordable,’ that less than six years later we’d be able to say commercial carriers have transported 35,000 pounds of space cargo (and counting!) to the International Space Station -- or that we’d be so firmly on track to return launches of American astronauts to the ISS from American soil on American commercial carriers. But that is exactly what is happening,” said at the time NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. 

Prophetic words

A few years later, Bolden's words seem prophetic as NASA continues to rely on American companies to guarantee its space missions. With these latest missions underway, the agency has awarded a total of 32 missions for cargo resupply with 14 missions going to Northrop Grumman, three missions going to Sierra Nevada Corporation (now Sierra Space), and 15 missions going to SpaceX.

It is estimated that the maximum potential value of all these contracts is $14 billion, an amount well worth playing to guarantee the continued success of American space missions.

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