Technology Review has an in-depth interview with SpaceX Vice President Lawrence Williams about his company’s plans and the retirement of the space shuttle:
TR: Can you expand on the terms of your contract with NASA?
LW: We have been awarded a contract to develop first the capability to just do cargo, and eventually demonstrations with crew, although NASA has yet to exercise that part of the contract. But we are developing our system with the plan in the future to evolve into carrying crew. The capsule that we have designed is a flexible system, so basically instead of carrying cargo to the space station you put in seats and a crew life-support system. We are currently the only company under contract with NASA to do crew, although again, that option has not been exercised.
The second part of the contract is for $1.6 billion for 12 flights of actual cargo. In other words, the first three flights are demonstration missions as part of the COTS program, and the 12 flights are actual cargo supply, and they start at the end of 2010.
Read the full interview.