NASA Selects Boeing, SpaceX to Launch Americans to Space Station

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — U.S. astronauts once again will travel to and from the International Space Station from the United States on American spacecraft under groundbreaking contracts NASA announced Tuesday. The agency unveiled its selection of Boeing and SpaceX to transport U.S. crews to and from the space station using their CST-100 and Crew Dragon spacecraft, respectively, with a goal of ending the nation’s sole reliance on Russia in 2017.

“From day one, the Obama Administration made clear that the greatest nation on Earth should not be dependent on other nations to get into space,” NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. “Thanks to the leadership of President Obama, the hard work of our NASA and industry teams, and support from Congress, today we are one step closer to launching our astronauts from U.S. soil on American spacecraft and ending the nation’s sole reliance on Russia by 2017. Turning over low-Earth orbit transportation to private industry will also allow NASA to focus on an even more ambitious mission – sending humans to Mars.”

These Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts are designed to complete the NASA certification for human space transportation systems capable of carrying people into orbit. Once certification is complete, NASA plans to use these systems to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station and return them safely to Earth.

The companies selected to provide this transportation capability and the maximum potential value of their FAR-based firm fixed-price contracts are:

  • The Boeing Company, Houston, $4.2 billion
  • Space Exploration Technologies Corp., Hawthorne, California, $2.6 billion

The contracts include at least one crewed flight test per company with at least one NASA astronaut aboard to verify the fully integrated rocket and spacecraft system can launch, maneuver in orbit, and dock to the space station, as well as validate all its systems perform as expected. Once each company’s test program has been completed successfully and its system achieves NASA certification, each contractor will conduct at least two, and as many as six, crewed missions to the space station. These spacecraft also will serve as a lifeboat for astronauts aboard the station.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program will implement this capability as a public-private partnership with the American aerospace companies. NASA’s expert team of engineers and spaceflight specialists is facilitating and certifying the development work of industry partners to ensure new spacecraft are safe and reliable.

The U.S. missions to the International Space Station following certification will allow the station’s current crew of six to grow, enabling the crew to conduct more research aboard the unique microgravity laboratory.

“We are excited to see our industry partners close in on operational flights to the International Space Station, an extraordinary feat industry and the NASA family began just four years ago,” said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “This space agency has long been a technology innovator, and now we also can say we are an American business innovator, spurring job creation and opening up new markets to the private sector. The agency and our partners have many important steps to finish, but we have shown we can do the tough work required and excel in ways few would dare to hope.”

The companies will own and operate the crew transportation systems and be able to sell human space transportation services to other customers in addition to NASA, thereby reducing the costs for all customers.

By encouraging private companies to handle launches to low-Earth orbit — a region NASA’s been visiting since 1962 — the nation’s space agency can focus on getting the most research and experience out of America’s investment in the International Space Station. NASA also can focus on building spacecraft and rockets for deep space missions, including flights to Mars.

For more information about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and CCtCap, visit:

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    $2.6 B is enough for Space X to do it, and $ 4.6 B is enough for Boeing to get into trouble and ask for more. This will work.

  • Chris Courtois

    I like that way of thinking. It hadn’t occurred to me. Good one!

  • Terry Rawnsley

    They should have funded each half a billion less than they asked for and awarded the billion dollars held back to whichever company could fly a production spacecraft within 2 years.

  • The Alchemist

    Haha! That’s probably exactly what they were thinking too!

  • The Alchemist

    It’s astounding to see SpaceX at this point right now and I couldn’t be more proud of them. Who would’ve thought that they would ever get to this point?

  • ReusablesForever

    And yet again, the Navy gets to go fishing every blue moon, or so, for an Apollo on steroids!

    Why nor land on land after doing it for 30-some years? How much does a retrieval mission cost versus runway maintenance?

  • windbourne

    Love that idea.
    However, I am betting that Boeing would not go for it.

  • windbourne

    The one issue that i have is that they were awarded guaranteed flights.
    I would have preferred a COTS/CSR approach, whereby development was kept separate from the actual post flights.
    With a clean separation, then a number of companies could bid for the post flights.
    That approach would allow for other companies to bid, but also the ability to have real competition for flights, just like CSR did.

  • amnong

    What does it mean for Dream Chaser? Should we (and by we I mean those who want to see a lifting body type of space vehicle) be disparaged? Will Sierra Nevada continue to develop it?

    There is a page on the SNC website titled “NASA’s Commercial Crew Program” which currently states “Page is currently under construction. Please check back again soon.” Link:

    Does anyone think that this is because SNC stated they will continue to develop Dream Chaser with or without NASA support whereas Boeing stated that if they are not chosen they will shut down the program?

  • Terry Rawnsley

    I hope neither of these companies figure on making a living off of government contracts. After they build their spacecraft, they’re going to be competing with each other for passengers and cargo and Congress isn’t going to pay for anything without value received.

    What would Boeing do about it, leave? 🙂

  • windbourne

    SpaceX gets less than 33% of their money from US Gov. money. And I think that it is less than 25%.
    So, they are not a problem. Basically, they have a VERY diversified matrix.

    And Boeing knows that they are charging so high that they had to be guaranteed flights or they were NOT going to get the bid later.
    My guess is that as soon as there is a third western human launcher, than CST-100 is dead.

  • disqusser10157

    Actually, saying that there was a business case for your ship even if you didn’t get the NASA contract was supposed to be plus toward NASA picking your proposal. I think NASA just didn’t have the amount of confidence in SNC that it did in Boeing and SpaceX. It the last round of contracts, SNC only got about 1/2 the money SpaceX and Boeing got.