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NASA will pay SpaceX half as much as Boeing to launch astronauts

NASA will pay Boeing more than twice as much as SpaceX for crew seats

According to Ars Technica, NASA will pay Boeing twice as much for each Starliner seat as it does for identical Crew Dragon tickets to the International Space Station. As of yet, Boeing has not been successful in launching a single man into space. The organization announced this week that it had given SpaceX five additional crewed trips to the station. This brings the overall number to 14 by 2030 when the station is expected to retire.

Six crewed flights were contracted by Boeing over the same time frame. It still receives support from NASA, albeit not quite as much as SpaceX. As a result, according to Ars’ estimates, NASA will pay SpaceX merely $88 million per seat while spending $183 million per seat on a Boeing Starliner throughout all scheduled flights. This is just around half!

Due to Boeing’s Starliner’s extraordinarily sluggish development, the capsule failed to enter orbit on its first disastrous test flight in December 2019. Right now, there are merely more delays than before, and a bright spot appears a long way off.

Since then, the firm has not made any significant advancements, stumbling into orbit on its second try in May despite experiencing engine issues along the journey and carrying no crew. The first crewed Starliner mission is anticipated to launch in the first quarter of 2019. NASA assigned two individuals to fly in the capsule on its maiden crewed test flight in June.

Image depicts Elon Musk and SpaceX building
Elon Musk and SpaceX

As the ULA retires its Atlas V rocket after six Starliner flights, Boeing may eventually have trouble obtaining accessible rockets to launch the spaceship, according to Ars.

Due to the fixed price nature of NASA’s Commercial Crew program, Boeing will likely be responsible for covering any resulting budget overruns. The Starliner program has already shown to be a significant financial drain on the business. In summary, Boeing is well behind SpaceX in terms of development, which means NASA will likely have much more trouble defending the enormous sums of money it is paying to maintain both businesses’ competitiveness.

SpaceX Plans 100 launches in 2023

Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, said that the business aims to accomplish 100 launch flights in 2023. The business has established a record in 2022, and it’ll keep doing so in the future. After many years of inactivity, SpaceX launched 15 to 20 rockets annually from 2017 to 2019.

SpaceX Starlink Launch
SpaceX Starlink Launch

Additionally, the frequency of launches from 2019 to 2020 abruptly quadrupled some time as Starlink entered the building phase. Results indicate that SpaceX is capable of launching a Falcon 9 rocket every two weeks, thus 2020 looks to be an attempt. SpaceX broke the previous record of 21 launches established in 2018 by launching a total of 26 times that year.

SpaceX launched 20 satellites in total during the first half of 2021, which is an increase of 50% from the number of launches during the whole year of 2020. SpaceX launched 11 more times in the second part of the year because the firm had two blank spells. In the last four weeks of the year, SpaceX accomplished six launches, demonstrating its capacity for 78 missions annually.

SpaceX is going to break a record

At this point, 2022 has either increased or retained 2021’s last few weeks’ launch pace. 27 Falcon 9 launch operations of SpaceX were successful in the first half of this year.

In order to surpass its prior record of 31 launches in 2021, this is almost half the time. The corporation will set a lot of new milestones this year if this pace is maintained. The business launched six rockets in July and August of this year’s second half. With this, it keeps up its annual launch pace of 72.

But this was thought to be an anomaly. However, if the business proceeds with six more launches in September, it may be assumed that this would become the new standard for the launch cadence of the Falcon 9. By 2023, SpaceX must find a means to conduct an average of eight Falcon launches each month in order to reach the goal of 100 flights. In comparison to now, this rate rise is 33%.

Source: CNBC, WonderfulEngineering

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Written by Alex Bruno

Freelance space writer Alex Bruno specializes in covering China's quickly expanding space industry. In 2021, he started writing for SpaceXMania. He also contributes to publications including SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, and New Scientist. When Alex was a small child, he first experienced the space bug after seeing Voyager photographs of alien planets in our solar system. When not in space, Alex likes to go trail jogging in the Finnish countryside.

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