SpaceX receives first manned mission order from NASA

NASA has made a big step towards sending astronauts into space from American soil by issuing SpaceX its first mission order to launch astronauts into orbit. The new order is the second in a series of guaranteed orders that NASA will make for the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability contracts.

Boeing was the first company to receive one of these mission orders in May of this year. Even though Boeing received its crew mission order first, it hasn't yet been determined which of the two firms will be the first to launch manned missions.

Boeing will eventually send astronauts to the ISS aboard its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. SpaceX will use its Crew Dragon spacecraft for its manned missions. Being able to send astronauts into orbit aboard either of these spacecraft will be the first time the US has had manned launch capabilities since the space shuttle fleet was retired.

SpaceX recently completed a critical review of the Dragon crew capsule, which demonstrated that the transportation system has reached the level of maturity needed to work towards building and testing activities. The standard crew mission to the ISS will carry up to four NASA or NASA-sponsored crewmembers and 220 pounds of cargo.