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space (spās) n. 1. space beyond the atmosphere of the earth.

prag·ma·tism (prgm-tzm) n. A way of approaching situations or solving problems that emphasizes practical applications and consequences.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Draft Released

NASA has at least released a draft of the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS). Nothing shocking in it, but it is good to have it in writing.

Basically it is in two phases:

Phase 1 – A period of development and demonstration by private industry in coordination with NASA of various space transportation capabilities to and from low-Earth orbit (LEO) determined to be most desirable for the Government and other customers.

Phase 2 – A potential competitive procurement of orbital transportation services to resupply the ISS with cargo and crew, if a capability is successfully demonstrated and the Government determines it is in its best interest.

Phase 1 is broken into three different capabilities:

Capability A delivers cargo (payloads) that operate directly in the space environment to a LEO test bed and provides for its safe disposal.

Capability B delivers cargo (payloads) that operate within a volume maintained at normal atmospheric pressure to a LEO test bed and provides for its safe disposal.

Capability C delivers cargo (payloads) that operate within a volume maintained at normal atmospheric pressure to a LEO test bed and provides for its safe return to Earth.

Phase 2 is (currently) only one capability:

Capability D delivers crew to a LEO test bed and provides for safe return to Earth.

I am glad they are going to work with multiple sources:

NASA intends to use its Space Act authority to enter into multiple funded
agreements resulting from this announcement.

But you can’t do Cap D until you prove you can do Cap C (which stands to reason, I suppose).

Proposals are also solicited for crew transportation Capability D, but only as an option to period 1 proposals for Capability C. The period 2 demonstrations will consist of multiple missions to LEO and the ISS. The number of missions proposed to satisfy human rating requirements for commercial passengers will be evaluated and ultimately determined by NASA. The option will be considered for execution only after the successful demonstration of Capability C.

And it is fixed priced milestone based payment approached

Payments will be made upon the successful completion of performance milestones as proposed by the participants and negotiated with NASA. NASA’s contribution will be a fixed amount and will not be increased or decreased based on the participant’s ability to obtain private funding. 2.2 Project Schedule Period 1 will commence upon the execution of the SAA targeted for May 2006 and will end after the successful flight demonstration of the selected capability expected to occur in the 2008-2010 timeframe.

You can get more schedule info as time passes at the following COTS website:

All right, all you space entrepreneurs, let get this party started!


Michael Mealling said...

This process needs the light of public scrutiny shown on it as it moves forward. While this version look good, it is to easy to edit out the good bits as the RFP announcement moves toward an actual procurement. There are to many special interested involved that would like for this effort to die a slow death.

So please keep an eye on this and when you see crap happening please call NASA on it.

Dr. John Mattei said...

I agree Michael. I was Chief of Operations on the Skylab program when it became obvious the decaying orbit would be the demise of the station. We approached NASA with a myriad of proposals to boost it into a higher orbital plane to sustane the life of Skylab. NASA was not at all responsive to our efforts for fear any more success with Skylab would have an effect on the funding for the Space Shuttle. Skylab was allowed to fall from orbit and burn up upon entry. So, let's keep their feet to the fire should any 'Monkey Business' rear up that looks like sabotage.