NASA Expands Commercial Partnerships Beyond LEO

Credit: NASA
Credit: NASA

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Building on the progress of NASA’s partnerships with the U.S. commercial space industry, NASA has recently announced several new initiatives for partnerships, including: the Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown (Lunar CATALYST), Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) Broad Agency Announcement (BAA), Collaborations for Commercial Space Capabilities (CCSC), and a Request for Information (RFI) for interest in evolving ISS functions and capabilities for supply and demand in support of the development of a low-Earth orbit (LEO) commercial market. These efforts are complementary to each other and support NASA’s overall exploration implementation strategy.

NASA recently announced its selection of three U.S. companies for Lunar CATALYST Space Act Agreements (SAA): Astrobotic Technology, Masten Space Systems, and Moon Express. These partnerships will facilitate advancement of commercial lander capabilities that will enable delivery of payloads to the surface of the Moon, as well as new science and exploration missions of interest to NASA and to scientific and academic communities. There will be no exchange of funds with these agreements; however, NASA’s contributions may include technical expertise, access to Agency test facilities, equipment loans, and/or software for lander development and testing for an estimated three-year period. Additional information can be found at http://www.nasa.gov/lunarcatalyst.

NASA is developing concepts for the ARM, which would use a robotic spacecraft to capture a small near-Earth asteroid, or remove a boulder from the surface of a larger asteroid, and redirect the asteroid mass into a stable orbit around the Moon. To support mission formulation and reduce risk and cost, NASA selected 18 proposals for six-month studies on several topics, two of which are related to commercial spacecraft development and potential future partnerships to enable commercial activities. Study details and a full list of selected proposals can be found at http://www.nasa.gov/content/nasa-selects-studies-for-the-asteroid-redirect-mission.

NASA is currently also assessing proposals for CCSC partnerships, with selections to be announced later this summer. The objective of the collaborative partnerships is to advance private-sector development of integrated space capabilities so that emerging products or services could be commercially available to government and non-government customers within approximately the next five years. These no-funds exchanged SAAs will offer access to NASA’s vast spaceflight resources including technical expertise, lessons learned, and data.

Earlier this spring NASA issued a RFI to collect information on how NASA can enable greater private access, use, and applications of low-Earth orbit utilizing the ISS for commercially viable activities. The RFI provides an opportunity for NASA to learn about the interests of a range of external parties, including commercial, international, and other U.S. government sectors in the development of commercial activities and capabilities in LEO. This is a request for information only; inputs will be assessed, and NASA will determine next steps based on the best interest for the government.

  • windbourne

    Perfect.
    We need to do more like this.