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SpaceX Delivers Solar Power and Blueberries to ISS
PLUS: The Billion-Dollar Bond Between NASA & SpaceX
Good morning, my fellow Earthlings 👽️ 🖖
Here's what's shaking in the space business this fine Thursday morning…
Just past noon on June 5th, SpaceX flawlessly launched yet another reusable Falcon 9 booster from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, delivering vital cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). This marks the 28th resupply mission and the 36th Falcon 9 mission, showcasing SpaceX's dedication to sustainable and frequent launches.
A highlight of the cargo was the final pair of ISS Roll Out Solar Array (IROSA) solar panels designed to replace the station's aging solar power supply. Four IROSA panels have already been installed, and with the final pair, NASA expects a 20-30% boost in energy production capabilities—enough to keep the ISS operational until it’s decommissioned in 2030. The Cargo Dragon is also delivering scientific investigation equipment including CLINGER technology to be used for autonomous space station docking systems and equipment for the analysis of microgravity-induced DNA mutation (i.e., the rate of gene mutation in space).
Science aside, the astronauts are really only anticipating the fresh food onboard—cheese, cherry tomatoes, and, yes, blueberries.
The romance between SpaceX and NASA has been blossoming for years, a partnership that has consistently hit the jackpot. SpaceX's playbook of pursuing bold ideas and deadlines is unmatched, and the company’s audacity is a testament to their relentless drive, lofty ambitions, and allegiance to the creed of "first principles." This philosophical approach has been a key ingredient in the recipe for SpaceX's dependability, technological innovation, and public respect:
On the technology side, rockets have historically been “one-and-done” when sent into space, and this idea had never been contested in the space industry until SpaceX arrived in the arena, challenging the status quo with the simple idea that rockets can be reusable. As with other nascent space industries, a combination of shrinking technology components and frequent, inexpensive launches has made the launch business thrive - but really only for SpaceX as the major player that figured out how to make rockets reusable.
On the public image front, , SpaceX is on mission to make science fiction, non-fiction. The company’s Inspiration4 mission was the first spaceflight that sent an all-civilian crew into orbit for 3 days, documenting the entire journey in a four-part Netflix series.
NASA contracts speak the truth. From cargo missions to the International Space Station (ISS) to lunar lander contracts, SpaceX has become a major player in NASA's commercial partnerships. Here are some of the highlights of their collaboration over the years:
In 2008, NASA awarded SpaceX a contract worth $1.6 billion to transport cargo to the ISS over eight flights
In 2016, NASA awarded SpaceX a contract for five additional space station cargo-supply missions, estimated to be worth around $700 million
In 2021, NASA awarded SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to use its Starship rocket to take astronauts from lunar orbit to the surface of the moon
In 2022, NASA awarded SpaceX a contract worth up to $100 million over a decade as part of a payload contract
Through 2030, SpaceX is now under contract to complete 14 operational Crew Dragon missions for NASA for $5.1 billion
In August 2022, NASA awarded SpaceX a contract worth $1.4 billion for five more astronaut missions
These aren’t small numbers. In 2022, SpaceX overtook Boeing as NASA’s largest for-profit vendor.
. @spacex has edged out @BoeingSpace to become NASA's top vendor after @Caltech, which operates @NASAJPL. @NASA obligated more than $2B to SpaceX in fiscal '22, which ended Sept. 30, compared to $1.7B for Boeing, $1.3B for @LMSpace. Caltech's contract $2.7B. Times are a'changing https://t.co/FEBx8XC0gb
🐦 Tweet of the Day
Pentagon Struggling To Explain All 437 Earth Genders To Aliens https://t.co/gqXMyI40KE https://t.co/xuaPnDorNB
That’s it for today.
As always, thanks for reading, and see you next time 🧑🚀