The commercial space industry will be getting even more NASA funding. After the recently announcing that Boeing and SpaceX were awarded contracts for launching astronauts to the International Space Station, NASA is now looking for proposals to expand cargo delivery capabilities to U.S. companies.
Currently, two private U.S. companies, Orbital Sciences and SpaceX provide resupply services to the ISS. The European Space Agency's last resupply mission will fly during Expedition 42 in the coming months, so there will be a void to fill for servicing the space station.
Additionally, the Obama administration announced a plan to service the ISS until at least 2024. The current round of proposals is looking to award at least one company at least six flights per contract. SpaceX was awarded twelve flights for $1.6 billion and Orbital's contract was for eight valued at $1.9 billion. NASA's goal with these contracts are to foster competition in the private industry to find the best options that offer a good balance between price, reliability and capability.
Huntsville's Marshall Space Flight Center will be working with the winners of the contracts. The Payload Operation Integration Center is responsible for the science that goes up to the ISS, and will work with the commercial companies to coordinate what goes up when and how it is loaded.