Point of view footage of the SpaceX pad abort test. Video source: SpaceX YouTube channel.
NASA announced today that SpaceX will receive a $30 million milestone payment for successful completion of its pad abort test May 6 at the Cape's Pad 40.
According to the press release:
“This test was highly visible and provided volumes of important information, which serves as tangible proof that our team is making significant progress toward launching crews on American rockets from America soon,” said Jon Cowart, partner manager for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “The reams of data collected provide designers with a real benchmark of how accurate their analyses and models are at predicting reality. As great as our modern computational methods are, they still can’t beat a flight test, like this, for finding out what is going on with the hardware.”
The press release concludes, “SpaceX is expected to receive its authorization to proceed with work on a post-certification mission later this year. The determination of which company will fly the first mission to station will be made at a later time.”
On May 27, NASA announced that it had given Boeing its first crew mission order. That does not mean that Boeing gets the first flight, just that Boeing received its first order. It's like ordering a plane ticket for a particular date, but later on you may order a ticket for an earlier flight with another airline.