NASA to Purchase Additional Commercial Crew Missions

NASA insignia.

NASA intends to issue a sole source modification to SpaceX to acquire five additional crewed flights to the International Space Station as part of its Commercial Crew Transportation Capabilities (CCtCap) contract. The additional crew flights will allow NASA to maintain an uninterrupted U.S. capability for human access to the space station with two unique commercial crew industry partners.

In December 2021, NASA announced the extension of the International Space Station to 2030. With this extension, there is a need for additional crew rotation missions to sustain a safe and sustainable flight cadence throughout the remainder of the space station’s planned operations.

“Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 went very well and we hope to be able to certify the Starliner system in the near future. However, we will need additional missions from SpaceX to implement our strategy of having each commercial provider flying alternating missions once per year,” said Phil McAllister, director, commercial space at NASA. “Our goal has always been to have multiple providers for crewed transportation to the space station. SpaceX has been reliably flying two NASA crewed missions per year, and now we must backfill those flights to help safely meet the agency’s long-term needs.”

NASA anticipates a potential need to use any additional SpaceX flights as early as 2026 to ensure dissimilar redundancy, maintain safe space station operations, and allow each company to work through any unforeseen issues that could arise as private industry builds operational experience with these new systems.

“The recent success of Boeing’s uncrewed flight test is helping to solidify NASA’s long-term goals,” said Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “It’s critical we complete Starliner’s development without undue schedule pressure while working to position both Boeing and SpaceX for sustainable operations in the years ahead.”

SpaceX is currently NASA’s only certified commercial crew transportation provider. The company will fly its sixth rotational mission for NASA in the spring of 2023.

In October 2021, NASA issued a request for information from American industry capable of providing safe, reliable, and cost-effective human space transportation services to and from the International Space Station to ensure a continuous human presence aboard the microgravity laboratory. In February 2022, NASA awarded a firm fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract modification for the Crew-7, Crew-8, and Crew-9 missions to SpaceX.

After a thorough review of the long-term capabilities and responses from American industry, NASA’s assessment is that the SpaceX crew transportation system is the only one currently certified to maintain crewed flight to the space station while helping to ensure redundant and backup capabilities through 2030.

The current sole source modification does not preclude NASA from seeking additional contract modifications in the future for additional transportation services as needed.

In 2014, NASA awarded the CCtCap contracts to Boeing and SpaceX through a public-private partnership as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Under CCtCap, NASA certifies that a provider’s space transportation system meets the agency’s requirements prior to flying missions with astronauts. After years of development, commercial crew systems have achieved or are nearing operational readiness for regular crewed missions, including providing a lifeboat capability, to the space station.


Commercial Crew Program 2022 Children’s International Artwork Contest Winners

More than 700 pieces of art were submitted for the 2022 Commercial Crew Program Children’s International Artwork Contest and a total of 45 entrants were selected as winners. Featured here is the first-place selection in the Rockets, Age 4-6 category, “Ready, Get Set, Go!,” submitted by Vihaan, age 7, from India.
More than 700 pieces of art were submitted for the 2022 Commercial Crew Program Children’s International Artwork Contest and a total of 45 entrants were selected as winners. Featured here is the first-place selection in the Rockets, Age 4-6 category, “Ready, Get Set, Go!,” submitted by Vihaan, age 7, from India.

The entries are in for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) 2022 International Children’s Artwork Contest, and the artwork we received is out of this world!

The contest – which ran from Nov. 15, 2021 through Jan. 6, 2022 – asked young artists ages 4-12 years old from all around the world to submit unique and original masterpieces featuring NASA themes such as spacecraft, astronauts, rockets, living and working in space, and exploring the solar system. Young artists from 33 countries submitted over 700 works of art! Entries were judged on originality and composition, and a total of 45 entrants were selected including first, second, and third place winners in each theme and age category to have their artwork displayed in Astronaut Crew Quarters at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where Commercial Crew astronauts quarantine before launching into space.

In addition to the CCP Digital Art Gallery below, the winning entries were also combined to create three printable posters available for download (optimized for standard printing sized 11″ x 17″).

Download the Winning Artwork Poster for Ages 4-6
Download the Winning Artwork Poster for Ages 7-9
Download the Winning Artwork Poster for Ages 10-12

Please take a look at this year’s winning artwork and celebrate the amazing creativity of these young artists by sharing the Digital Gallery on social media using #NASA #CCPArtContest!

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The CCP art contest began in 2017 to celebrate the creativity and vision of the next generation of space explorers. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program works with American companies to build new rockets and spacecraft for launching astronauts into space, to places like the International Space Station. The spaceships launch from Florida and take astronauts about 250 miles above the surface of Earth to perform experiments that make our lives better and prepare future astronauts for longer missions to places like asteroids and Mars.

NASA, SpaceX Provide Update on Crewed Space Station Mission

Crew-3 Launch
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer onboard, Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission is the third crew rotation mission of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Chari, Marshburn, Barron, Maurer launched at 9:03 p.m. EST from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center to begin a six month mission onboard the orbital outpost. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

NASA and SpaceX provided an update Feb. 4 on the status of preparations on the agency’s Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station. As part of the news conference, NASA and SpaceX answered media questions on Crew Dragon’s parachutes and work ahead of its next crew launch with NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, as well as with ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.

Listen to a full replay of the news conference, and read the agency’s statement below:

Crew safety remains a top priority for NASA. The agency and SpaceX carefully and methodically monitor the operational parachute performance on all crew and cargo flights to increase safety and reliability.

During the return of the SpaceX CRS-24 mission, teams observed a single main parachute that lagged during inflation like the return of the Crew-2 mission. The vertical descent rate of both flights was within the system design margins at splashdown, and all four main parachutes fully opened prior to splashdown on both missions.

With the commonality between Dragon spacecraft, the mission teams prioritize parachute imagery during return and recovery of the parachutes following splashdown. As partners, NASA and SpaceX jointly review the imagery data and perform physical inspection of the drogue and main parachutes after flight. The inflation model also continues to be updated to better characterize and understand margins and splashdown conditions. This review of flight data and parachute performance models will be completed prior to the launch of the Crew-4 mission and the return of Crew-3 astronauts from the International Space Station.

NASA and SpaceX are completing the parachute analysis as part of the standard postflight reviews conducted at the end of each mission. The results of the data reviews are discussed as part of joint engineering and program control boards and findings presented at the agency’s flight readiness review in advance of the next crew mission. NASA and SpaceX still are targeting launch of the Crew-4 mission Friday, April 15, to the International Space Station.

Week Begins on Station with Science Hardware Work

ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer swaps samples inside the Materials Science Laboratory, a physics research device.
ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer swaps samples inside the Materials Science Laboratory, a physics research device.

The seven-member Expedition 66 crew started the last day of January working on a wide variety of research gear supporting biology, physics, and Earth science. Spacewalk tool work and vision tests were also on Monday’s schedule aboard the International Space Station.

NASA astronauts Kayla Barron and Thomas Marshburn kicked off Monday servicing science components, flight hardware and life support gear. Barron started the morning inside the Kibo laboratory module installing a small satellite orbital deployer onto an experiment platform that will soon be placed into the vacuum of space. Marshburn also worked inside Kibo installing ice bricks to condition science freezers. Barron later replaced a robotic hand controller while Marshburn worked on water transfer tasks.

ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Matthias Maurer once again wore the Metabolic Space medical monitoring device measuring his heart rate and breathing function while riding the station’s exercise bike. The astronaut from Germany also worked on the Mochii electron-scanning microscope then reloaded firmware supporting an array of wireless instrumentation.

NASA Flight Engineer Raja Chari worked on pistol grip tools that spacewalkers use when removing or attaching bolts on the outside of the space station. He also joined Barron and Marshburn participating in vision tests checking for visual acuity using a standard eye chart. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei took Monday morning off before spending the afternoon checking cable connections and assisting the cosmonauts with Russian hardware.

Commander Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos started the day studying ways to pilot future spacecraft and robots on planetary missions. He then joined Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov for a technology study exploring advanced methods to locate landmarks for Earth photography. Dubrov also swapped fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack that supports safe research into flames and fuels in microgravity.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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Atlas V Rocket Assembled for Starliner Launch to International Space Station

United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket
Engineers in United Launch Alliance’s Vertical Integration Facility used large cranes to assemble the stages of the company’s Atlas V rocket, in preparation for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) launch to the International Space Station. Photo credit: United Launch Alliance

United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas V rocket is assembled in preparation for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) launch to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Engineers in ULA’s Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) used large cranes to assemble the stages of the rocket in an upright position on its mobile launch platform, which will carry the Atlas V and Starliner from the VIF to the pad for launch.

To verify the rocket is ready to launch, technicians will soon power the Atlas V to test flight controls, check the engine steering profiles, and conduct a combined systems test.

The 172-foot-tall rocket will be fully completed when the Starliner is mounted aboard the Atlas V. A ULA payload transporter will move the capsule from Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF) at the Kennedy Space Center to the nearby VIF for attachment.

The Atlas V will propel Starliner off the pad on 1.6 million pounds of thrust on its second uncrewed flight test from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida no earlier than July 30.

As Boeing’s second uncrewed flight for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, OFT-2 will serve as an end-to-end flight test to prove the Atlas V rocket and Starliner are ready for regular missions launching astronauts to and from the space station.

Learn more about ULA’s Atlas V and stacking.

More details about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program can be found by following the commercial crew blog@commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

Crew-1 Flight Readiness Review Underway; Virtual Crew Media Engagement on NASA TV

NASA and SpaceX managers are gathered this morning to begin the Crew-1 mission’s Flight Readiness Review at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The review focuses on the preparedness of SpaceX’s crew transportation system, the International Space Station, and its international partners to support the flight, and the certification of flight readiness.

The SpaceX Crew-1 official crew insignia features a dragon in silhouette, a Crew Dragon spacecraft, and the numeral 1 for Crew-1.Kathy Lueders, associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, is leading the review. Hans Koenigsmann, vice president for Build and Flight Reliability, is the senior SpaceX official.

The teams also have additional time on Tuesday, Nov. 10, to complete the review. Approximately one hour after the review ends, the agency will hold a media teleconference with the following participants:

  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, Kennedy
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station, Johnson
  • Norm Knight, deputy manager, Flight Operations Directorate, Johnson
  • Benji Reed, senior director, Human Spaceflight Programs, SpaceX
  • Junichi Sakai, manager, International Space Station Program, JAXA
  • FAA representative

Also, tune in to NASA Television or the agency’s website at 1:15 p.m. EST today for a Virtual Crew Media Engagement at Kennedy with the Crew-1 astronauts who will answer questions live from the Astronaut Crew Quarters inside Kennedy’s Neil Armstrong Operations & Checkout Building.

NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), will launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft on the first crew rotation mission to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Liftoff is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 14, at 7:49 EST, from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy.

Flight Readiness Review Begins for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test

Wet dress rehearsal for OFT
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, topped by the Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, stands on the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Friday, Dec. 6, during a wet dress rehearsal for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test. Image credit: NASA

NASA and Boeing are holding a Flight Readiness Review (FRR) today at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation for Boeing’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The review provides NASA and Boeing the opportunity to assess the mission status and work that needs to be completed prior to the critical flight test.

Ken Bowersox, deputy associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA Headquarters, is leading the meeting. The senior Boeing official at the review is Jim Chilton, senior vice president, Boeing Space and Launch.

Teams have gathered from across the agency and Boeing to hear presentations from key mission managers. The FRR is an in-depth assessment on the readiness of flight for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft and systems, mission operations, support functions and readiness of the space station program to support Starliner’s maiden mission to the International Space Station. The meeting will conclude with a poll of all members of the review board.

Starliner will launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to rendezvous and dock with the orbiting laboratory. Launch is targeted for Friday, Dec. 20.

The flight test will provide valuable data NASA will review as part of the process to certify Boeing’s crew transportation system is as safe as possible for carrying astronauts to and from the space station.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program Target Flight Dates

*NASA and Boeing provided updates on Oct. 11, 2019. For the details on Boeing flight tests and the schedule, visit

The next generation of American spacecraft and rockets that will launch astronauts to the International Space Station are nearing the final stages of development and evaluation. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program will return human spaceflight launches to U.S. soil, providing reliable and cost-effective access to low-Earth orbit on systems that meet our safety and mission requirements. To meet NASA’s requirements, the commercial providers must demonstrate that their systems are ready to begin regular flights to the space station. Two of those demonstrations are uncrewed flight tests, known as Orbital Flight Test for Boeing, and Demonstration Mission 1 for SpaceX. After the uncrewed flight tests, both companies will execute a flight test with crew prior to being certified by NASA for crew rotation mission. The following schedule reflects the most recent publicly-releasable dates for both providers.

Targeted Test Flight Dates:
Boeing Orbital Flight Test: June 2018
Boeing Crew Flight Test: August 2018
SpaceX Demonstration Mission 1: February 2018
SpaceX Demonstration Mission 2 (crewed): June 2018

Seeking Sky Walkers

Seeking Sky Walkers


Have you ever wanted to explore to a galaxy far, far away? Is the Force strong in you? NASA seeks sky walkers to join the astronaut alliance. Learn more, at


Getting to Know Our Crew

Our astronauts had the chance to share the path forward for Commercial Crew and why they are excited to train and ultimately fly to the International Space Station aboard Boeing’s
CST-100 and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. Behnken Hurley Williams