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Commercial Destinations in Low Earth Orbit

This view of Earth was captured from a window on the SpaceX Dragon Endurance spacecraft as it approached the International Space Station. Pictured below is the Strait of Gibraltar that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea, which separates the continents of Europe and Africa.

NASA’s Commercial Low Earth Orbit Development Program is supporting the development of commercially-owned and operated Low Earth Orbit destinations from which NASA, along with other customers, can purchase services and stimulate the growth of commercial activities in Low Earth Orbit. As commercial Low Earth Orbit destinations (CLDs) become available, NASA intends to implement an orderly transition from current International Space Station (ISS) operations to these new CLDs. Transition of Low Earth Orbit operations to the private sector will yield efficiencies in the long term, enabling NASA to shift resources towards other objectives. With the introduction of CLDs, NASA expects to realize efficiencies from the use of smaller, more modern and efficient platforms and a more commercial approach to meeting the Agency’s needs in Low Earth Orbit. In the longer term, the gradual emergence of additional customers for commercial Low Earth Orbit destinations will offer the opportunity for additional savings.

The extension of ISS operations to 2030 will continue to return benefits to the United States and to humanity as a whole while preparing for a successful transition of capabilities to one or more commercially-owned and -operated Low Earth Orbit destinations (CLDs). NASA has entered into a contract for commercial modules to be attached to a space station docking port and awarded space act agreements for design of three free-flying commercial space stations. U.S. industry is developing these commercial destinations to begin operations in the late 2020s for both government and private-sector customers, concurrent with space station operations, to ensure these new capabilities can meet the needs of the United States and its partners.

CLD Partner Organizations:

As NASA transitions from the space station and sets its sights on the Moon, America will maintain leadership in LEO by enabling a new generation of commercial partnerships.
See how the private sector will expand the economic sphere with commercial cargo to space, commercial spaceflights, and commercial destinations in orbit, and how it will enable NASA to be one of many customers and advance human space exploration.
Commercial LEO Destinations: Exploring the Future of Research in Space panel discussion at ISSRDC 2022.