Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) and Commercial Crew Development (CCDev/2) NASA Programs

On January 18, 2006, NASA announced a new program to encourage the development of new spacecraft and launch systems designed to be able to supply the delivery of crew and cargo to the International Space Station. This need, of course, is due to the cancellation of the Shuttle program, which formerly performed that func­tion, among others.

The COTS program anticipates an extra dimension of precision needed by participants since delivery to the ISS requires exact orbit inser­tion, rendezvous, and docking with or proximity to the ISS or other spacecraft. The program includes the award of financial contributions and the trans­fer of proprietary NASA technical data to assist in the development of the participants’ vehicles.

More than 20 companies submitted propos­als under the COTS program in March 2006 and an additional seven by November 2007. The primary recipients of COTS awards have been Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (Space X) and Orbital Sciences Corporation. Space X has achieved success in reaching its milestones under the program (see below) and has received some $500 million from NASA.