Commercial Crew and Cargo Program
Commercial Crew & Cargo Program

The C3PO will extend human presence in space by enabling an expanding and robust U.S. commercial space transportation industry.

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COTS Logo Black
Commercial Orbital Transportation Services

C3PO is responsible for managing NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) projects.

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Commercial Crew Development

Commercial Crew Development is a NASA investment that will aid in the development and demonstration of safe, reliable, and cost-effective space transportation capabilities.

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Commercial Transportation

The Commercial Spaceflight theme encompasses completion of commercial cargo capability milestones and will expand NASA's efforts to develop commercial crew capability to LEO and the ISS.

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Commercial Crew Program

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) is an innovative partnership to help the United States industry develop space transportation systems that can safely launch astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) and other low Earth orbit destinations.

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ISS Assembly Sequence
International Space Station Program (ISS)

A human outpost in space bringing nations together for the benefit of life on Earth and beyond.

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Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX)
SpaceX Falcon 9 Lifts Off
May 22, 2012
Image credit: NASA/Alan Ault

Falcon 9 Rocket
Image Credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann

Canadarm2 Grapples Dragon

Dragon After Splashdown
Image Credit: Image Courtesy of SpaceX

SpaceX is developing a family of launch vehicles intended to reduce the cost and increase the reliability of access to space. The SpaceX design and manufacturing facilities are located in Southern California, near the Los Angeles airport, and the propulsion development and structural test facilities are located in Central Texas.

The Falcon 9 is a 2-stage launch vehicle powered by LOX/RP engines. The first stage generates 765,000 1bf of thrust (sea-level) using nine Merlin engines, and the second stage generates 96,000 1bf (vacuum) using a single Merlin engine. Both stages use gimbaled engines for guidance. Falcon 9 offers engine-out capability for the first stage.

The Dragon spacecraft has a flexible cargo and crew configuration and is recoverable. Pressurized cargo is transported inside the capsule while unpressurized cargo is located in the “trunk.” The crew configuration will be able to accommodate up to 7 crew members per flight.

Besides containing all the functions required to support crew or pressurized cargo, Dragon also contains much of which might be found in a typical "service module", including reaction control thrusters, GN&C, command & data handling, telemetry & communications, ISS proximity operations sensors, power & thermal control, entry, descent, landing, locator & emergency equipment, and environmental control and life support sub-systems. The Dragon spacecraft design is structurally identical for both the cargo and crew configurations, the chief differences being the thrusters, internal outfitting, and some other subsystems. For cargo launches, the inside of the capsule is outfitted with a modular cargo rack system designed to accommodate pressurized cargo in standard sizes. For crewed launches, the interior will be outfitted with crew couches, controls with manual override capability, and upgraded life support. Keeping the cargo and crewed versions of Dragon similar minimizes the design effort.

The SpaceX demo mission to the ISS launched into orbit on May 22, 2012. The Dragon cargo module delivered over 1,000 pounds of supplies to the space station crew. After several days attached to the ISS the Dragon capsule returned to Earth, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean on May 31, 2012. Dragon returned over 1,300 pounds of hardware.

Falcon 9 Overview
Dragon Overview
DragonLab Datasheet Please click here to learn more about SpaceX.

SpaceX Demo Launch Media Resources

SpaceX Demo Mission Press Kit
NASA Cargo Manifest (PDF, 61 kb)
Mission Objectives (PDF 96 Kb)
Mission Overview (PDF 97 Kb)
Preflight Briefing Audio: 04.16.12
Preflight Briefing Graphics: 04.16.12
Photo Gallery
Launch Video

SAA Milestones
Milestone # Description Planned Date Approved Date
1 Project Management Plan Sep 06 Completed
2 Demo 1 System Requirements Review Nov 06 Completed
3 Demo 1 Preliminary Design Review Feb 07 Completed
4 Financing Round 1 Mar 07 Completed
5 Demo 2 System Requirements Review Mar 07 Completed
6 Demo 1 System Critical Design Review Aug 07 Completed
7 Demo 3 Systems Requirement Review Oct 07 Completed
8 Demo 2 Preliminary Design Review Dec 07 Completed
9 Draco Initial Hot Fire Mar 08 Completed
10 Financing Round 2 Mar 08 Completed
11 Demo 3 Preliminary Design Review Jun 08 Completed
12 Multi-engine Testing Sep 08 Completed
13 Demo 2/3 CDR Dec 08 Completed
14 Financing 3 Mar 09 Completed
15 Demo 1 Readiness Review Mar 09 Completed
16 CUCU Flight Unite Design, Acceptance, and Delivery May 09 Completed
17 Demo 1 Mission Jun 09 Completed
18 Demo 2 Readiness Review Sep 09 Completed
19 Demo 2 Mission Nov 09 Completed
20 Cargo Integration Demonstration Jan 10 Completed
21 Demo 3 Readiness Review Jan 10 Completed
22 Demo 3 Mission Mar 10 Completed
23 Modal Test Plan Dec 10 Completed
24 Modal Test Dec 10 Completed
25 6 DOF Testing-open Dec 10 Completed
26 Thermal Vacuum Test Dec 10 Completed
27 LIDAR Test Plan (closed loop) Mar 11 Completed
28 Thermal Vacuum Test Mar 11 Completed
29 Infrastructure Plan Mar 11 Completed
30 Thermal Vacuum Test Jul 11 Completed
31 Test site Infrastructure Implementation Jun 11 Completed
32 Dragon Trunk Acoustic Test Jun 11 Completed
33 LIDAR Test 6 DOF (closed loop) Aug 11 Completed
34 Design Review Enhanced Powered Cargo Accommodation Aug 11 Completed
35 Design Review Pressurized Cargo Volume Increase Aug 11 Completed
36 Dragon EMI/EMC Test (HITL) Jul 11 Completed
37 Dragon Cargo Racks & Hatch Simulator Aug 11 Completed
38 Ground Demo Enhanced Powered Cargo Sep 11 Completed
39 Launch site Infrastructure Implementation Sep 11 Completed
40 Production Infrastructure Implementation Sep 11 Completed