Space Newsfeed

IET Satcom 2018

NASA invests in concepts for a vibrant future commercial space economy

(8 August 2018 - NASA) In an ongoing effort to foster commercial activity in space, NASA has selected 13 companies to study the future of commercial human spaceflight in low-Earth orbit, including long-range opportunities for the International Space Station.

The studies will assess the potential growth of a low-Earth orbit economy and how to best stimulate private demand for commercial human spaceflight. The portfolio of selected studies will include specific industry concepts detailing business plans and viability for habitable platforms, whether using the space station or separate free-flying structures. The studies also will provide NASA with recommendations on the role of government and evolution of the space station in the process of transitioning U.S. human spaceflight activities in low-Earth orbit to non-governmental enterprises.

NASA announced on Aug. 8, 2018, the selection of 13 U.S. companies to study the future of commercial human spaceflight in low-Earth orbit, including long-range opportunities for the International Space Station, seen here orbiting over the International Date Line on July 20, 2018. (courtesy: NASA)

“When the International Space Station was established, we could not have anticipated all of the benefits it would provide,” said Sam Scimemi, director of the International Space Station division at NASA Headquarters. “We’re excited to receive this input from the commercial market and aerospace experts to help shape a future thriving space economy in which companies contract with each other to conduct research and activities in low-Earth orbit.”

The selected companies are:

  • Axiom Space, LLC, of Houston
  • Bigelow Aerospace, LLC of Las Vegas
  • Blue Origin, LLC, of Kent, Washington
  • The Boeing Company of Houston
  • Deloitte Consulting of Manhattan Beach, California
  • KBRWyle of Houston
  • Lockheed Martin Corporation of Littleton, Colorado
  • McKinsey & Company, Inc. of Washington, D.C.
  • NanoRacks, LLC, of Webster, Texas
  • Northrop Grumman of Dulles, Virginia
  • Sierra Nevada Company of Louisville, Colorado
  • Space Adventures, Inc., of Vienna, Virginia
  • Space Systems/Loral, Inc. of Palo Alto, California

The unique concepts and analysis resulting from these studies will help NASA, the administration and Congress develop a strategic approach to expanding opportunities for American industry.

NASA’s continued investment in a strong and continually growing U.S. space industry in low-Earth orbit will allow the agency to focus on farther horizons as private companies continue successfully providing cargo resupply missions to low-Earth orbit and take advantage of the ability to launch astronauts from American soil.

These awards are yet another step in NASA’s efforts to foster a broad spectrum of commercial activities in low-Earth orbit where, in the future, NASA will be one of many customers. Application of the concepts and ideas offered through this opportunity will ensure the continuity of human spaceflight and facilitate a vibrant and competitive industrial base for continued U.S. leadership in space.

The contracts and amounts are dependent on negotiations with the selectees, but NASA estimates the combined value of all awards will be approximately $11 million, with each contract not to exceed $1 million. The final study reports will be delivered to NASA in December.