Military Embedded Systems

Commercial space companies selected by NASA for collaborative partnerships


December 30, 2014

John McHale

Editorial Director

Military Embedded Systems

NASA officials chose four U.S. companies to work with the agency via unfunded partnerships to produce new space capabilities that can be made available to the U.S. government and other users. These partnerships will build on the NASA's commercial spaceflight initiatives to leverage NASA technological expertise into new applications.

Officially dubbed the Collaborations for Commercial Space Capabilities (CCSC), the initiative is tailored to advance private sector development of integrated space capabilities via access to NASA’s spaceflight resources and to ensure emerging products or services are commercially available to government as well as non-government users within about the next five years.

The companies selected for the CCSC and their projects are:

- ATK Space Systems, in Beltsville, Md., which is developing space logistics, hosted payload, and other space transportation capabilities.

- Final Frontier Design, in Brooklyn, N.Y., is designing intra-vehicular activity space suits.

- Space Exploration Technologies, in Hawthorne, Calif., is creating space transportation capabilities that may be used to support missions into deep space.

- United Launch Alliance, in Centennial, Colo., is designing new launch vehicle capabilities to bring down cost and enhance performance.

The Space Act Agreements (SAAs) have no exchange of funds, and each party will bear the cost of its participation. NASA's contributions may include technical expertise, assessments, lessons learned, technologies, and data. Sharing this existing expertise in a structured way only requires minimal government resources while fostering the development of technologies that will enable NASA to achieve its goal of expanding human exploration of the solar system and advancing exploration, science, innovation, benefits to humanity, and international collaboration.

Other NASA partnerships with the commercial space industry include the Lunar CATALYST initiative, which selected three companies for commercial robotic lunar lander capabilities, and the Asteroid Redirect Mission Broad Agency Announcement, which selected 18 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 success of activities such as the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) initiative, through which two U.S. companies develop new rockets and spacecraft that can provide cargo resupply services to the International Space Station. Similar efforts are underway with commercial partners to develop human transportation capabilities for crewed flights such as contracts with Boeing and SpaceX to design and certify crew transportation systems that will transport astronauts from the United States to the space station and back on U.S. spacecraft.

For more on NASA initiatives and commercial space, go to:

For more on the CSCC solicitation, go to:

For more on the Lunar CATALYST initiative, visit:

For more on the 18 selected proposals for studies under the Asteroid Redirect Mission Broad Agency Announcement (BAA), visit:


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