NASA has awarded $1.24 billion to Boeing to extend its IT support contract for the International Space Station (ISS) for another 5 years.
Boeing has been working on the ISS since January 1995, and the award is an extension of the original vehicle sustaining engineering contract, which previously was extended in 2008.
The latest award brings the total value of the contract to $16.2 billion, according to NASA.
The space agency said it needs to maintain the ISS "at peak performance levels" for the next five years because there are a lot of stakeholders in the research being done on board. In addition to NASA and the station's international partners, other government agencies and private companies all leverage ISS research. The ISS is a joint research effort between the United States, Europe, Japan, Canada, and Russia.
Specifically, Boeing maintains space station hardware and software, particularly systems provided by the United States that support the international partners that also perform research on the craft.
Boeing also manages most of the technology systems on board, including materials and processes; electrical, electronic and electromechanical parts; environments; and electromagnetic effects.
This year NASA has used the ISS to experiment with new web-based technology, including a live video stream of astronaut activities in the station's labs.
The space station has run into some high-tech problems of late as well. Last month two astronauts aboard the craft had to make a series of tricky spacewalks to repair technology that helps keep critical systems on the orbiting platform from overheating.
NASA and ISS partners are hoping to maintain operations on the craft through 2020 and are in the final stages of seeing if this is possible. The agency also is waiting for participating countries to formally confirm this goal.
As part of its contract-extension work, Boeing will assess whether it's feasible to extend the life of the primary structural hardware of the ISS through the end of 2028, according to NASA.
Boeing's work on the ISS will be performed at various domestic and international locations, including NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston; the Kennedy Space Center in Florida; and the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.