Wednesday, November 30, 2022
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SpaceX becomes NASA’s largest for-profit supplier

Fourteen years after winning its first major contract with NASA, SpaceX has now eclipsed all other major aerospace companies to become NASA’s largest profit supplier. Only Caltech (a non-profit organization) fares better.

The more the years go by and the more SpaceX gets the contracts. As a result, the number of launches continues to increase. The company now launches ten times more rockets than its main competitor and relies again and again on its main hobby horse: Falcon 9.

Many of these launches are for SpaceX-specific payloads. However, NASA remains one of its best customers, providing the US agency with a wide range of services at rock-bottom prices. Recently, SpaceX received a record $2.04 billion for these services in fiscal year 2022, according to sources. data shared by Aviation Week reporter, Irene Klotz. Only the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), a non-profit organization, received more money ($2.68 billion during the same period).

Thus, Elon Musk’s company presents itself today as NASA’s largest payment service providerahead of the two giants of the US aerospace industry Boeing ($1.72 billion in 2022) and Lockheed Martin ($1.34 billion).

On all fronts

This more than solid relationship with NASA, which has targeted SpaceX to deposit the next humans on the Moon, began in 2008. At the time, the US agency awarded the company a $1.5 billion contract to develop early versions of the Cargo Dragon spacecraft and its Falcon 9 rocket for the purpose of delivering cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). Without this contract, SpaceX would likely have gone bankrupt, as Elon Musk once said.

After being bailed out, SpaceX was finally able to successfully launched the Falcon 9 in June 2010. The company then began delivering supplies to the ISS as early as 2012. By 2025, the company will have chained almost forty of these cargo missions under two contracts worth more than three billion dollars.

Crew Dragon Endeavor docked to the ISS. Credit: NASA

In 2014, NASA also entered into a contract with SpaceX and Boeing develop spacecraft capable of transporting astronauts to and from the ISS to no longer be dependent on the Russians. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon completed its first manned test flight in May 2020, before beginning operational launches in November 2020. On the Boeing side, the first manned test flight of the Starliner capsule is now scheduled for no later than early February 2023.

A few months ago, NASA also made the decision to purchase eight additional launches from SpaceX, but none from Boeing. SpaceX is now under contract to perform fourteen manned operational missions for NASAto the tune of $4.93 billion.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets are also widely used for launches a wide variety of NASA spacecraft through the solar system.

Finally, the last major post on NASA spending to benefit SpaceX focuses on the starship. As mentioned above, NASA awarded SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to develop a lunar landing system. Since 2020, NASA has paid SpaceX $1.26 billion for its work.



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