Building on the success of NASA’s commercial spaceflight initiatives, agency officials announced Monday plans to solicit proposals from U.S. private enterprises for unfunded partnerships to collaboratively develop new commercial space capabilities.
“The growing U.S. commercial spaceflight industry is opening low-Earth orbit in ways that will improve lives on Earth, drive economic growth and power 21st century innovations,” said William Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations. “As NASA again pioneers a path into deep space, we look forward to sharing our 50 years of spaceflight experience and fostering partnerships in ways that benefit our nation’s ambitious spaceflight goals.”
The Collaborations for Commercial Space Capabilities (CCSC) initiative will advance entrepreneurial efforts through access to NASA’s spaceflight resources. Using Space Act Agreements (SAAs), NASA and its partners would agree to a series of mutually beneficial activities. New partnerships must identify benefits under one or more elements of NASA’s 2014 Strategic Plan, which include expanding human presence into the solar system and surface of Mars to advance exploration, science, innovation, benefits to humanity and international collaboration.
The partnerships would have no exchange of funds and each party will bear the cost of its participation. NASA’s contributions through resulting SAAs could include technical expertise, assessments, lessons learned, technologies and data.
“As with NASA’s previous unfunded commercial partnerships, U.S. companies significantly benefit from the agency’s extensive infrastructure, experience and knowledge in spaceflight development and operations,” said Phil McAlister, NASA’s director of commercial spaceflight development. “We hope these partnerships will increase the likelihood that these entrepreneurial activities will be successful.”
An Announcement for Proposals will be released on March 31 for the competitive selection of one or more SAAs. NASA plans a pre-proposal teleconference on April 3 to discuss the initiative and answer questions. For more information about the solicitation and teleconference, visit:
CSCC is one of several NASA partnership initiatives with the commercial space industry. Others include the Lunar CATALYST initiative, which seeks proposals for commercial robotic lunar lander capabilities, and the Asteroid Redirect Mission Broad Agency Announcement, which seeks proposals for studies related to NASA’s plan to collect and redirect an asteroid, then send astronauts to collect samples.
These initiatives build on the successful legacy of NASA’s current and previous commercial space activities, including the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) initiative. Through COTS, two U.S. companies developed new rockets and spacecraft capable of providing cargo resupply services to the International Space Station. Similar initiatives are underway with commercial partners to develop human transportation capabilities for crewed flights this decade.
As NASA works with U.S. industry to develop the next generation of U.S. spaceflight services, the agency also is developing the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS), a crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket to provide an entirely new capability for human exploration. Designed to be flexible for launching spacecraft for crew and cargo missions, SLS and Orion will expand human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration across the solar system, including to a near-Earth asteroid and Mars.
For more information about NASA initiatives and commercial space, visit:
Trent J. Perrotto
Johnson Space Center, Houston