[UPDATE: At the press conference, NASA awarded three private spaceflight companies commercial resupply contracts to the International Space Station]
NASA has announced that there will be a ‘major announcement’ about cargo transport to the International Space Station today. What will they be announcing? We can’t say for sure, but we thought of a few possibilities.
There’s a strong chance that it will be about awarding contracts for new companies to resupply the space station. In 2014, NASA put out a call for new commercial contract proposals, and we could be seeing the results today. Currently there are two companies running supplies to the station: SpaceX and Orbital ATK, but others, including Sierra Nevada, are still hoping for a chance to fly cargo to the ISS.
The announcement might also be related to SpaceX’s return to running supplies to the station next month, on February 7. The company hasn’t been back to the ISS since their resupply flight exploded last June.
Transporting cargo is essential to the continued operation of the space station. Without resupply missions, astronauts would not be able to stay on the ISS for long periods of time. Cargo resupply missions include basics like food, but also tools, equipment, and science experiments.
The webcast will start at 4PM eastern and can be watched on NASA TV. For the livestream, click here.